The true vine

The true vine, so called,
offers some awkward metaphors
for entering into a fruitful life.
Cleansing and pruning;
not the most comfortable of procedures.
His words did not merely cleanse.
They were intended more to create chaos
than comfort, upheaval rather than ease.
It was all about discipleship, and fruitfulness.
The teacher from Galilee came to seek
fools who would join him in his outrageous quest;
be joined to him.
The vine may be a metaphor
but the discipleship has weight and form.
He works hard
to balance the pruning with the abiding;
the sacrifice and pain
with the friendship and love.
And in the end there are the fruits;
the grapes, and the wine.
Along with the struggle, the tears, the anger
and the hope.

 

 

© Ken Rookes 2015

Other sheep

Taking heed of Jesus’ teaching,
listening for his voice;
looking out for others,
unafraid to make love’s choice.

The shepherd calls them by their name;
he’ll keep them safe from threat.
Come join him in the fold and know
his work’s not finished yet.

Some sheep have different colouring,
might feed on different grass;
they trust in hope and justice,
never fear what comes to pass.

Some speak with foreign accents,
step out in robes or veils,
make peace their golden standard
and weep when loving fails.

They may not pray like we do,
or sing our sacred songs;
but the flock, it comes together
when it stands against the wrongs.

Their doctrines might not be the same,
but one thing they agree:
love is the thing that matters,
forgiveness is the key.

Joined in freedom’s family-flock,
because that’s where they belong:
their differences won’t stop them
as they sing the shepherd’s song.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Betrayal

In 1915 numerous sons
and a few daughters embarked on ships
to participate in a war.
We grew up saluting the flag on Mondays,
and hearing, each April.
the stories of war.
Ours was a young nation, proud, defiant, fearless;
born, we were told, in blood, on the battlefields
and in the trenches of Turkey, Belgium and France.
We heard of courage, larrikin resourcefulness,
and compassion.
These brave soldiers were injured, traumatised and died,
the grand myth attests,
for us, and for our freedom.
We honoured their sacrifice;
remembering, too, those who served in later conflicts.

A century later
the stories become a celebratory avalanche;
while dignitaries and politicians make their preparations
to assemble at Anzac Cove. There they will glory in the moment.
The legendary spirit, however, has become elusive,
betrayed by a nation that has become afraid to love
and by its even more fearful leaders.
Back in this fortunate land, desperate people,
whose only crime was to come seeking refuge,
are, for political convenience,
denied the same freedom so fiercely defended by our forebears.
They are sent off-shore, to be imprisoned behind wire fences
and within an officially sanctioned conspiracy of silence.
For convenience. And for shame.
It is a costly convenience;
in more ways than one.

©Ken Rookes 2015

Rising

 

For seven weeks the season called Easter
stretches out, long after the eggs
have been divested of their foil
and the chocolate has been consumed.
It persistently recalls the mystery,
as we read, in episodes,
the story of women and men
who met unexpectedly with their risen Lord.
Luke, teller of good news,
offers us a sometimes ghostly,
sometimes fleshly, Jesus;
both of whom lead us to renewed wondering.
We hear, again,
the familiar but unlikely resurrection tales,
and are faced with the same worrisome possibilities
of all past Easters.
The narratives call loudly,
and reach deeply,
as the spirit of Jesus invites us
to take our part in the great ongoing drama.
He challenges us to take courage,
to walk his road of love and forgiveness,
and to carry in our own bodies
the defiant confrontation,
determined hope,
and costly sacrifice
that may yet redeem the world.
 

© Ken Rookes 2015

Good news story No. 4

 

Thomas the questioner
refuses to accept the unbelievable:
Good for him!
I’m there alongside Thomas;
let some of the criticism
that gospel-teller John sprays in his direction
paint my body, too.
In the end, we are told,
when he meets the impossibly revitalised
person of the man he had watched die,
Thomas puts aside his scepticism.
I suppose I would, too,
if invited by the risen Jesus
to touch his hands and side.

The good-news purveyor
writes of a resurrection far beyond
encounters with the risen Jesus.
There are generations
who will not have opportunity
to comprehend with their eyes,
but who will be none-the-less be blessed
with believing, perceiving, rather,
in their hearts.
They follow resurrection’s improbable promise
of justice, hope and love;
treading with faith
that foolish and costly path through death,
towards life.

 

 

© Ken Rookes 2015

Get on with it, Thomas!

In the business of faith, so-called,
words are gathered on paper,
sorted into groups,
numbered and annotated,
printed with indelible ink,
framed behind glass
and made into standards
behind which combatants assemble
and accuse their opponents
of heresy and betrayal,
and by which fellow humans
are categorised as being in or out.
But faith is not about words,
or being right,
(or, even more importantly,
not being wrong);
faith is responding to grace
and risking all
on the wild adventure
of life and of love.
When, a week after he was raised,
Jesus told Thomas to stop doubting
and to have faith,
he was not so much worried
about the content of his beliefs
or his ability to put aside his questions,
or so it seems to me,
but simply telling him to get on with it.
Get on with it, Thomas.

© Ken Rookes

I left my new poem behind, in Willowra, so I am posting an old one on the gospel for this coming Sunday. I will post the new one when I get home in about a week.