Beginnings

Haiku of commencement

Mark takes up his pen
to write upon the parchment:
Jesus makes a start.

Departs Nazareth,
leaves the family behind.
South to the Jordan.

Finds the Baptiser,
raises his hand, comes on down;
Baptise me too, John.

As he emerges
dripping wet from the water
the Spirit descends.

Does the voice boom loud,
or is it a mere whisper?
My beloved son.

The Spirit takes charge,
drives him into wilderness;
a place for testing.

A time for praying.
Forty days of questioning;
forty days of doubts.

The days pass. He comes,
back to his people, convinced,
now, of his calling.

The time is fulfilled,
God’s kingdom is drawing near.
Good news: trust in it.

 

© Ken Rookes 2018

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My name is John

Haiku for beginning

Give me camel’s hair,
leather belt around my waist;
feed me with locusts.

Give me a loud voice
enough to shake foundations.
Feed me wild honey

Find me at the creek
with the rocks and croaking frogs.
Water is my home.

Put away your sins;
the darkness in your living.
Let’s wash it away.

Come and be baptised.
Show that you are eager, keen
to begin anew.

One comes after me.
He will do much more than I.
He brings the Spirit.

. . . .

He came from up north
to meet John at the Jordan.
Baptise me, comrade.

The heavens opened
with the voice of approval.
The Spirit came down.

 

© Ken Rookes 2018.

Needing to be baptised

Haiku for beginners

When he was ready
he travelled from Galilee,
south, to the Jordan.

There he came to John
with a baptism request.
John was reluctant.

You ask this of me,
I should be baptised by you;
the Baptist demurred.

Let it be so now,
Jesus answered. It’s proper
and right to do this.

The river beckoned.
He sank beneath its surface,
finding his calling.

Emerging once more
from the darkness into light;
fills his lungs with life.

The white dove flies low,
with heaven’s voice whispering:
this, then, is my son.

 

© Ken Rookes 2017

Come to the water

The water, it dances, it gurgles and flows,
it sings alleluia, new life it bestows.
It sweeps over rapids, around unseen bends,
to vistas surprising and landscapes of friends.

This river, it eddies, it catches us all
in long graceful turnings; love’s generous swirl.
This water lives deeply, our thirst, it is quenched;
our bodies are freshened, our souls they are cleansed.

The Spirit is given, she hovers and cries
delights in the dreamings and aches with the sighs.
Surrender to the water, and hear Jesus’ call
to be a disciple, and a servant to all.

Some are wrinkled from birth, some are wrinkled with age;
Hey, come to the water; whatever your page!
Drink freely, my sister, my brother, my friend;
drink deep from the fountain, of grace without end.

The water is justice, the water is peace;
it saturates living, its strivings won’t cease
Let none withhold water, the Spirit commands;
unite in one body and fulfil love’s demands.

© 2016 Ken Rookes

Can be sung to the tune St Denio,
Together in Song
143, AHB 80

I have reworked this from an older poem/song. The original was suited to an actual baptism, this has a more general use, such as for the Baptism of Jesus, this coming Sunday. I think it has been markedly improved.

The heaven was opened

The opening of heaven,
by all accounts,
was not an every-day occurrence.
At Jesus’ baptism, by John,
in the flowing waters of the Jordan,
this rare event,
(according to some ancient stories),
took place. On that occasion,
we are told, heaven’s stately doors
swung wide on their ethereal hinges,
allowing the divine spirit to descend
and to mingle outrageously
with that which is human.

While the record may well be incomplete,
no mention is made
of their subsequent closure.

 

© Ken Rookes 2016

The related poem/song can be found here.

Tearing

On the day when Jesus
strolled down to the Jordan
to meet with John and to be baptised,
the heavens, it is said, were torn apart.
They’ve been tearing apart ever since,
not just with Jesus,
who was outrageous enough;
some of those who came after him
have ripped things up a bit, too.
They broke laws, defied the powers
and governments, and challenged
the fearful and loveless status quo.

Here are some of the outcomes;
divine fragments,
torn from the heavenly interface
like squares from yesterday’s newspaper
and layered with earth’s paste
as they are fashioned into something new
and surprising.
A papier-mâche new creation, disturbing,
defiant, and more than a little foolish;
it is flimsy and fragile,
a vulnerable reliquary
of sacred hope.
 

 

© Ken Rookes 2015

 

Baptise me, John.

Baptise me, John.
I’m tired, need a change,
something to happen,
don’t know what.
Immerse me;
let the Jordan splash over me
and let it wash me deep.
Let the icy plunge
surprise me wakingly and cause me to gasp
as it removes the weary dust
of failure, fear and disappointment.
The water that splashes over my head;
let it clear my mind of narrowness
and open my eyes to the broadest spectrum
of things new and holy.
Drench me, John, that I may be ready
for the soaking of the Divine One
who is surely present in the water
and all around.
Let me be covered
and let me be naked.
Baptise me, John;
mingle my tears with your disturbing water
and turn me around
that I might find the new path,
and the way, beginning here,
among Jordan’s rocks and wetness.

© Ken Rookes

A second poem for Sunday can be found here