Peniel

Haiku of struggle

Jacob heads for home
hoping that time has softened
his brother’s anger.

Jacob is fearful.
He prays for deliverance,
hopes in God’s promise.

He hedges his bets:
sends his ample gift ahead
trying to appease.

Pausing for the night
Jacob buys time, putting off
the confrontation.

Sends the mob ahead,
waits alone. A man appears;
strange, mysterious.

Coming together
in a primeval contest,
Jacob fights the man.

They wrestle, Jacob
and the stranger. No one wins,
The sun is rising.

The man asks Jacob,
Let me go! Before I do
give me your blessing.

I’ll give you a name.
you have contended with God;
you are Israel.

Jacob understood;
he had wrestled with the Lord.
Somehow he survived!

Each of us wrestles
with the Lord in our own way;
we don’t often win.

© Ken Rookes 2019

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Laughing Boy

Haiku of surprise

Back in ancient times
God wandered with some angels,
met with Abraham.

At Abraham’s tent
the Lord was welcomed with cakes,
yoghurt, milk and veal.

The childless couple,
long past it, would have a child,
the strangers promised.

Sarah overheard,
listening near the entrance;
she laughed at the thought.

The promise mocks her.
Her childlessness is failure;
laughter hides her pain.

The impossible
is made possible, with God;
so the story says.

Sarah does conceive.
Apparently the old folk
still knew what to do.

Laughing Boy arrives.
Lots of joy, hope, and wonder,
not to mention laughs.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Haiku in response to the Narrative lectionary.

The cost

Haiku for disciples

Think priorities.
Discipleship must come first,
before family.

This is difficult.
Know what you’re getting into
when you answer ‘yes!’

The cross you carry
is an instrument of pain.
You will feel its weight.

Finish what you start.
Sit down, estimate the cost
before you begin.

I have looked ahead,
can see what’s waiting for me;
know who you follow.

Carefully reckon
the cost of discipleship:
follow anyway.

Don’t let anything
keep you from the kingdom path.
Be a disciple.

 

© Ken Rookes 2019

An old creation story

A poem for the Narrative Lectionary

 

An old creation story
Haiku from the dreamtime

The ancient story
sees the divine creator
sculpting humankind.

The Eden garden;
fruitfulness to be enjoyed,
The man must tend it.

The tree of knowledge
of good and evil is there;
a great temptation.

What did God expect
from her arboreal ban:
don’t eat of this tree?

Humans dominate
the other creatures, even
giving them their names.

The man sleeps deeply
as the woman is taken,
rib-like, from his side.

Fashioned from the ground
the man and woman of dust
belong to the earth.

She is his helper;
he will be her helper, too.
They will be partners

What means this order;
first the man, then the woman?
Damn patriarchy!

Two will become one,
this divine purpose: friendship,
support, and oneness.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Heirarchies of honour

Haiku for the humble

We all observe them,
the heirarchies of honour
that show our status.

Do not be troubled
by lists of significance
and where you fit in.

Simply be yourself,
unconcerned about status.
Honour comes and goes.

Be humble, accept
whatever God allots you,
God will exalt you.

Don’t invite your friends,
your brethren or rich neighbours:
they will pay you back.

Learn to be gen’rous.
Give to those who can’t pay back,
and make them welcome.

Share with the cripple,
the poor, the blind and the lame;
they can’t repay you.

Generosity
is its own blessing: be blest
as you share your love.

© Ken Rookes 2019

Not on the Sabbath

Haiku of freedom

Jesus was teaching
in one of the synagogues,
it was the Sabbath.

She came to see him,
the woman; she hadn’t stood
straight for eighteen years.

As we might expect
Jesus spoke words of freedom;
touched and made her whole.

Standing straight, praising,
and giving glory to God,
the woman rejoiced.

The law is broken!
They protest: Six days for work,
don’t use the Sabbath!

You are hypocrites!
he answers. On the Sabbath
we do what we must.

It’s not the Sabbath
that stops you rejoicing, but
your hatred for me.

Get hung up on law,
ignore what God is doing;
how sad you all are!

 

© Ken Rookes 2019

Fire on Earth

Haiku of urgency

He brought division,
surprised us all; we wanted
polite religion.

His words were crazy,
wild, disturbing our comfort,
not respectable.

Co-opting his words,
we made of them a program
of pious order.

If you want polite,
respectable and ordered,
you’d better leave now.

Your world is dying
and all you sing is pretty.
Don’t give me pretty.

Your world is dying,
open your eyes, can’t you see?
Time to do something.

Don’t give me love songs,
give me love’s revolution;
let me take the pain.

 

© Ken Rookes 2019