Some parting advice from an aged Elijah.

Yeah, it’s time.
Don’t know exactly when, or how,
but it will be soon.
You’ll be right. You’ve served well,
and you’ve been a good student.
A double share of my spirit?
That’s a big ask.
Tell you what,
if you see me as I go
I’ll see what I can arrange. Fair enough?
Some words of advice from an old man?
Watch out for foreign queens,
and their pathetic husbands.
No, seriously, just do what the Lord says,
and try to keep your head down.
Yeah, I know,
pretty ordinary advice for a prophet!
Would I do it all again?
Not a lot of choice in the matter,
for either of us. But yeah,
in spite of everything, I would.
There were times
I was scared out of my wits,
times I doubted whether all those
crazy words I had to speak
were really from the Lord.
But I didn’t dare take the chance
that they weren’t.
Grab hold of it, lad,
along with all the trouble!

© Ken Rookes

Making Jesus welcome

Making Jesus Welcome

If Jesus came to your town,
would anybody care;
would the people gather in the park
and listen to him there?

If Jesus came to your street
would you come outside and see?
Would you talk with his disciples
and invite them ‘round for tea. 

If Jesus came to your house
would you get out the good plates;
would you let him know he’s special
and that you want to be his mate? 

Would you recognise his homelessness
and offer him a bed,
(along with all his homeless mates),
and hear the things he said? 

If Jesus came to dinner
would you grab a mop and broom,
for to make a good impression;
and to tidy up the room?

Would you smile and make him welcome
knowing he’ll be gone next day;
or would you take his message deep inside
and invite him there to stay?

© Ken Rookes



And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 


According to the gospels of Matthew and Mark,

Jesus did have a home, in Capernaum.

I wonder who looked after it while he walked

his itinerant road for those three years;

did he put it on the market

or was he only renting? Perhaps,

for a time, the Son of Man did have a place

to lay his head.

Most nights I am at home

and I lay mine upon my familiar pillow

with gratitude. The eleventh residence

since we began our married life

is also our own. My itinerancy

requires a large removalist’s truck,

being no match for that of my Lord;

and my discipleship seems to be bordered

by my need for modest comfort

and a future with at least a degree of certainty.

In the face of all this, I stubbornly assert

my claim to be a disciple,

a sometime servant of truth,

a stumbling sharer of gospel hope,

a learner striving towards the Kingdom;

following one who had no place to lay his head,

and hoping to prove fruitful.


© Ken Rookes

At Gerasa

At Gerasa, by the lake,
the grassy weeds struggle for a foothold
in the stony earth among the tombs.
On occasion, and in season,
a determined flower will triumph,
flashing red or yellow in defiance.
At Gerasa, by the lake,
among those tombs,
one took root like a weed.
Naked, wild and captive to madness,
he regularly cast off the shackles and constraints
imposed by nearby townsfolk,
among whom he had once been numbered
as neighbour and kin.
A challenge to good order, comfort and faith,
they had been relieved
when he chose to make his home
half-way between the living and the dead. 

At Gerasa, by the lake
one came; human,
but touched with his own strange brand
of divine insanity.
(It is often said that it takes one to know one.)
Beyond the crazed ranting wildness
he saw the red flashing flower of defiant life;
loved him,
and spoke the needed words.
© Ken Rookes 2013

The pigs were drowned


In the shadowy depths
of the lake at Gerasa
the demons lie imprisoned
in the decomposing carcasses
of a herd of swine.
Gone is their host of many years,
the man known as Legion,
having returned home, clothed
unchained, and in his right mind.
There he declares
the wonders of God,
and attempts to resume his life;
the sideways glances remain.
Sometimes a new herd of pigs
forages among the tombs
and the rusty shackles, discarded
on the eastern shore at Gerasa.
The swineherds, for fear,
try to drive them away.
They do not trust the bubbling gasses,
which, at intervals,
the lake releases
from its gloomy bed.
Gone, too, is the prophet
who gave the man his freedom
and caused the commotion.
He was not made welcome.
 © Ken Rookes

Tepid hospitality

Turning away from the righteous Pharisee
he looked with love
upon the subject of his host’s derision.
The unnamed woman knew her place,
and had knowingly disregarded all the conventions,
upsetting more than a jar of ointment.
The consensus was clear: this woman
did not fit in with polite company.
She belonged out there,
in the shadowed places,
where ambiguities abound
and sinners lead their anxious lives.
Not in here, where the well-mannered Simon
extends his tepid hospitality
to this latest sensation,
the wandering teacher from the provinces;
he, at least, had an invitation.
With his feet still wet from ointment and tears,
the man speaks softly of warm forgiveness,
of welcome, gratitude, love and peace.
He does not care for the cold and calculating rules
by which respectable society is ordered;
and outrageously says so.

© Ken Rookes 2013