The harvest is great

He travelled about,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming good news.

Jesus wept for them:
like sheep without a shepherd,
helpless and harrassed.

Call out to the Lord,
more labourers are needed;
the harvest awaits.

So much to be done
to bring peace, healing, wholeness,
forgiveness and hope.

The time had arrived.
He called the twelve together,
gave them the challenge.

Heal, bring life and love,
show them the kingdom is near.
Teach them about God.

Do it in my name.
Show God’s generosity,
don’t expect payment,

Bring in the harvest;
gather the people who love
into the kingdom.


© Ken Rookes 2017

When John heard in prison

Haiku of enquiry

We missed you, Baptist;
your amusing desert rants
made us think again.

The authorities
were less amused; took offense,
waited for their chance.

If you’d stopped and thought
you might have backed off, instead
you’re locked in prison.

So you sent your mates
to find out what’s happening.
They seek out Jesus.

They ask: are you he,
the one we are expecting,
or do we still wait?

Open up your eyes,
what do you see, and hear
as you look about?

The blind see again,
lepers are being made clean,
the lame are walking.

And as for the poor,
they’re hearing the good news
with joy and with hope.

Go, tell the prophet
that God’s kingdom has come near.
Tell him: be at peace.


© Ken Rookes 2016

There is a place

They say there is a place, a state;
a sacred somewhere.
Distant; but not always.
A mystery glimpsed, at times,
on other occasions, cloud-shrouded
with shimmering smoke, obscured
such that only the persistent
will gaze long and hard enough
to be certain it is there.
A place that is there to be found by those who search;
a few stumble upon it.
Their surprise and delight is great.

There, meaning is written sharply,
truths are incandescent
and painted on walls.
There, light shines with the clear brightness
of autumn late afternoons,
the loving is fierce,
and justice compels.
This elusive place appears
as a flash glimpsed
for a moment among the shadows;
where mystery’s flickering panorama excites
and calls to the depths
to awaken aches and earnings.

Seek, the man once instructed his friends.
You will find; and watch,
as the divinely dusted universe
opens to disclose its possibilities.


© Ken Rookes 2016

The Keys of the Kingdom

The keys of the kingdom have been lost.
We know that Peter had them,
but he swears that he hasn’t seen them
for a long while.
Rumour has it they ended up in Rome.

There’s been quite a succession
of claimants to the role of custodian,
but some of us aren’t convinced
that any of them really knew
where the keys were.

Traditionally they hung from a ring
on the keeper’s belt. In recent times
they were apparently stored away,
and brought out on ceremonial occasions
with incense, robes and choirs.

Big and bronze, the keys clinked and rattled,
but were mostly only used
to regulate and control.
They did that effectively enough;
until recently.

They’re gone; not much doubt.
Doesn’t matter though,
and there isn’t any real point
prolonging the search; it’s widely thought
that the locks have all been broken

for some time, now.

© Ken Rookes 2014

The opposite

The opposite
of the kingdom of heaven
is that loss of spirit,
that diminution of hope,
that dark emptiness
where the possibilities
of surprise and generosity
have been forgotten.
No seeds grow,
the birds make no nests,
and no one searches for pearls.

© Ken Rookes 2014

Are you the one?

When John spoke,
his words fell to drench dry earth
and the desert was filled
with long-forgotten flowers;
the purple trumpets of repentance
and the blue-bells of earnest intent.
Imprisoned, and presumed silent,
he summoned some friends
to report on the state of the garden.
they told of wilderness beauty:
the sprouting green of new life,
the golden flowering of good news,
the pink and white flourish
of restored skin and bone,
and the red blossoming
glorious song and rainbow array
awaiting newly opened ear and eye.

Then the Baptiser knew
that the long-expected one
truly had come.
© Ken Rookes

Another poem for the third Sunday in Advent can be found here. 

Don’t stop now

We set out on our journey
when the words of life were spoken.
We knew we had to travel;
we knew the world was broken

We knew we had a message
that would breathe a new-found hope,
we knew it would not be easy,
we trusted we would cope.

We left behind our cares,
our fortune and desire.
We gathered up our courage;
we would set the world on fire.

Or so we hoped and so we prayed,
we studied and we plodded.
We collected our resources
while the Spirit pushed and prodded.

We saw our destination
unfold just like a vision;
we knew we had a calling,
we knew we had a mission.

Good news for the poor, we cry;
good news of love and grace!
The light is coming, now it’s here,
it shines upon each face.

We journey in the darkness,
we journey in the night,
we dine upon the wine, the bread
set at the table, white.

Injustice casts its shadow,
we feel its dreadful threat;
we know that love will triumph,
that love’s not finished yet.

So we confront the cruelty
the oppression and the greed;
dig deep into our calling
and find the strength we need.

But bitterness won’t go away
and fearfulness persists;
we weaken and grow weary,
and still the call insists.

“Let us go,” with worn-out cry
we make our loud request.
“The journey is too difficult
we need a place to rest.”

“All these years we’ve journeyed
we’ve struggled on and on,
but no-one seems to notice
and no-one sings our song.

“And no-one seems to care,
the world has not been righted;
this kingdom’s too elusive,
it is so seldom sighted.

“All people should be saved by now,
and dwell in heavenly bliss!
There are not many left of us,
we can’t go on like this!

We cannot help but question,
we have to voice our doubt;
where is the gospel power,
where’s that hallelujah shout?

We didn’t really plan for this;
Ha, we didn’t plan at all.
No planning but a simple “yes,”
when caught inside love’s thrall.

We stand within the silence,
we wait for a reply.
The road ahead seems unconcerned,
the road behind asks, “Why?”

“Why?” and “What?” and “Can it be?”
“How can we know the way?”
We search inside the stillness
for a reason not to stay.

“Don’t stop now!” the call responds,
“Keep on the road, my friend!
You know that once you’ve started
you must see it to the end.

“You think you’ve made a sacrifice,
perhaps you have, that’s fine.
Your gifts of love are noted;
all gifts of love are mine.

“There’s beauty in your weariness,
there’s beauty in persistence.
There’s glory in defiant acts,
in grace, and truth’s resistance.

“The destination’s guaranteed,
don’t worry you can’t see it.
The journey is the place of truth
for those who choose to be it.

“This broken world’s still waiting
for my children to arrive,
to build the peace and bring the love;
to make it come alive.

“So don’t forsake the journey,
no, don’t give up the fight;
and don’t forget my Spirit’s yours;
walk in the Spirit’s light.

And though the way be painful,
and though the night be strong,
remember that you’re not alone;
come join the angels’ song

© Ken Rookes

I shared this poem at my final Presbytery meeting on Tuesday. As I reflected on it it seemed to have some relevance to this Sunday’s Gospel reading.