Census

Haiku for losing control

As the story goes
Augustus and his minions
decreed the counting.

A census gives us
the needed information
to order our world.

Numbering people,
keeping control and power,
imposing taxes.

The count brings the man,
along with his pregnant bride
south to Bethlehem.

But in this baby
God upends all creation;
here is the promise.

Humble mum and dad,
common tradesman and his wife;
folk the same as us.

Find them a stable,
a shelter for giving birth.
How appropriate.

No fancy cradle;
he can sleep in a feed trough,
there among the straw.

Invite some shepherds,
poor and lowly witnesses;
they’ll proclaim his birth.

Something about God
spurning grandeur and power;
these are good stories.

 

© Ken Rookes 2017.

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They came

They came,
according to one ancient story,
looking for a child;
they found one in Bethlehem.
Leaving their gifts with the family
they shot through, back home to the east;
conveniently dropping Jerusalem,
and its palace, from their return itinerary.
They might have guessed that the old king
would get somewhat angry
when he discovered the broken promise.
Still, they’d be out of the country by then;
so would the boy, with a bit of luck,
not to mention some timely dreaming
on the part of his dad.
But for all the other families
in the little town of Bethlehem,
there were no sweet dreams,
just a nightmare.
With the easy wisdom known as hindsight,
it would have been better for everyone
had the men we call wise,
not made the trip at all;
their gifts were of little consequence,
and even yarn-spinner, Matthew,
didn’t manage to weave them
into the rest of his story.

© Ken Rookes 2013
More poems for next Sunday can be found here and here.

Micah from Moresheth

Micah from Moresheth, in the region of Judah,
gave us Bethlehem as the site
for the birth of the Messiah.
Perhaps he stopped by at the little town
on his one day journey to Jerusalem
to do his prophecy thing.
He posed a challenge for gospel writers,
Luke and Matthew:
how to arrange for Jesus from Nazareth
to be born in Bethlehem, three days south.
For the one it was a census; for the other,
fear, a massacre, and the return to a new home
after the flight to a foreign land.
For the one, the drama of a stable birth
with flights of angels and bewildered shepherds;
the poorest of the poor.
For the other, a fearful escape
and the vulnerability of refugees.
They each give us reason to pause
and reflect upon the strange purposes
of an even stranger God.
I wonder, if Luke was writing today,
might it be the homeless and the hopeless,
camped beneath a bridge,
who would be the subjects of the angelic invitation?
I wonder, if Matthew was writing today,
would he write of the kindness
of the people-smugglers
who helped the Holy family
reach their place of welcome and safety?

© Ken Rookes
An old favourite, seems seasonally appropriate; found in my book Promptings & Provocations