The Sabbath cornfields

Haiku for lawbreakers

The Sabbath cornfields
see his disciples breaking
the Sabbath work laws.

Plucking heads of grain:
harvesting, threshing, working!
All against the law.

The Sabbath, he said,
was given for humankind
not the opposite.

Jesus sits loosely
with the letter of the law;
he is ruled by love.

In the synagogue
the man with a withered hand:
will Jesus heal him?

Shall Sabbath prevail
and circumvent the healing?
No. He will choose love.

What does the law say,
on the Sabbath, to do good,
or should we do harm?

They will not answer.
Their hearts are hard, unable
to find compassion.

The mean and heartless
do not like being exposed.
The plotting begins.


© Ken Rookes 2018


You have heard that it was said (2)

Another haiku sequence

You know it is said
eye for eye and tooth for tooth;
this prolongs the fight!

Jesus says revenge
and payback get you nowhere;
grace is what’s needed.

Turn the other cheek.
It’s not easy, but opens
the doorway to peace.

Do the things you should.
Let that be your starting point;
then the extra mile.

Love builds empathy,
enhances all of living,
goes beyond duty.

If somebody begs
or asks to borrow money,
do not refuse them.

Life is in giving;
withholding diminishes.
Live generously.

They say, ‘love your friends.’
Love your enemies as well,
and pray for them, too.

God’s loving regard
falls upon all, good and bad.
Try to be like God.

Love those who love you.
Big deal! The ratbags do that.
Jesus calls for more.

Be servants of love,
sons and daughters of heaven.
Here is perfection.

© Ken Rookes 2017

The first part of this haiku sequence from Matthew chapter 5 is found here.

And a haiku sequence on salt and light, also from Matthew chapter 5 can be found here.

You have heard that it was said (1)

You have heard that it was said (1)
A haiku sequence,

Going beyond law.
You have heard that it was said;
but I say to you.

You shall not murder;
but anger with a brother
also is a sin.

Insult a sister
or call a brother “you fool,”
this will bring judgement.

Don’t attend worship
if you have caused an offence;
first be reconciled.

If you are accused
don’t wait ’til it gets to court,
sort it out before.

No adultery,
but even looking with lust
damages the heart.

If your hand or eye
leads you astray, discard it.
Live with truth and grace.

Do not swear falsely;
better still, don’t swear at all.
Stick with ‘yes’ and ‘no.’

He rewrote the law,
calling forth our better selves;
for the sake of love.


© Ken Rookes 2017

But I say to you

Master rhetorician,
Jesus from Nazareth,
knew the primacy of the law
in the minds of the people
who ran religion in his country.
He felt the weight of the shadow
cast across a millennium
by Moses, knowing how his words
had sought to guide the nation
and to inform the lives of its citizens.
It was part of the deal with the Almighty,
constructing limits to bad behaviour,
and establishing righteousness
and justice as the preferred shapes
of national life.
“You have heard it said,’
he was wont to say, cleverly
grounding his teachings in the law,
“But I say to you;”
cunningly suggesting that there might be
a worthwhile idea/thought/action
that takes us beyond law.
He was also wont
to name that possible something
as generosity, forgiveness,
and love.

© Ken Rookes 2014

With the coming of Word

With the coming of Word

With the coming of Word
at the beginning of the second act,
Grace and Truth
stride purposefully to centre stage
to take up their allotted positions.
Law, having featured so strongly in act one,
is, according to the script,
directed to move upstage
and to quietly exit to the right.
Law moves with deliberate steps,
then pauses,
relishing the lingering spotlight,
which, for loyalty or fear, perhaps both,
seems reluctant to trust
the new leads to carry the show.
Law’s assured and comfortable lines
seduce and enthral,
delivered with the much-practised ease
of one who has held the proscenium for centuries.
The spectators are less than convinced
by the unfamiliar and surprising utterances
of Grace and Truth.
The play pauses awkwardly,
perplexing the audience;
some begin to leave.

© Ken Rookes
Further poems for Sunday can be found here and here

Put them to shame

Put them to shame, Jesus:
those pompous guardians of Sabbath law
whose self-enforced enslavement
causes them to overlook
things of wonder, grace and beauty.
Put them to shame, Jesus:
the offence-takers
who kill hope and close their eyes
to love’s possibilities.
The law has not saved the woman,
bent and broken for eighteen years;
she is also a child of God.
Teach them, Jesus,
that liberation and truth will not be denied,
and that grace abounds and extends,
unconfined by our fears
or the hardness of our hearts.
Put them to shame, Jesus;
put them to shame.
© Ken Rookes

Another poem for this coming Sunday is here