Tell us then, what do you think?

Haiku for cutting through

Should we pay taxes
to the Emperor? they asked,
trying to catch him.

He can’t answer Yes;
but nor can he reply: No.
Both create problems.

They are hypocrites
and he tells them so. Show me
the coin for the tax.

A denarius.
Whose head is this, on the coin;
what is his title?

It’s the emperor!
Then give to Caesar those things
that belong to him.

And, while you’re at it,
give unto God all those things
that belong to God.

They make no reply.
Departing in amazement
they leave him; for now.

 

© Ken Rookes 2017

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But who do you say that I am?

Haiku for answering.

What do people say,
Jesus asked his followers;
Who’s the Son of Man?

Some say John the B,
Elijah, Jeremiah,
or other prophet.

Fair enough, he said.
But you mob, what do you say?
Tell me, who am I?

Simon Peter said,
You are the Christ, Messiah;
the living God’s Son.

Good answer, Peter!
This insight is not your own,
it’s from God above.

My good man, Rocky,
I’ll build my church upon you;
you’ll hold heaven’s keys.

What you bind on earth
will be so bound in heaven.
What you loose, as well.

And, by the way, guys,
that thing about Messiah;
keep it to yourselves.

 

© Ken Rookes 2017

Two disciples

Haiku for those who are called.

John the baptiser,
had a group of disciples
learning from their lord.

A man of insight,
a prophet, fearing no-one,
pointing to the light.

When Jesus turned up,
the way the story is told,
John stepped to one side.

John saw him coming.
“Look, here is the Lamb of God,”
two friends were told.

When they heard these words
they took leave of their master
to follow Jesus.

Jesus turned, saw them,
asked: “What are you looking for?”
Top question, that one.

They did not answer,
asked him, “Where are you staying?”
“Come and see,” he said.

An invitation
for all who come with questions;
and much repeated.

The Lamb of God comes
bringing life and light and hope:
Don’t wait, come and see!

Epilogue.

Andrew found Simon.
“Come and meet the Messiah.”
Took him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him.
“You are Simon, son of John.
I’ll call you Rocky.”

 

© Ken Rookes 2017

These men

These men, leaders among their people,
strut their masculine importance
as they confidently command the teacher’s attention.
They put forward their testing question;
it has a decided hint of misogyny,
and more than a suggestion of male power.
Is it OK for a man to remarry
after discarding his woman?
Is it OK to use and abuse,
to beat and mistreat,
and to replace with a younger model,
the old one, when she has become worn and tired?

Your hearts are hard, impervious,
he tells them,
shaped by millennia of patriarchy and law.
But no, it isn’t right
for a man to do so;
nor a woman, for that matter.
Your partnerings are from God.
Your intimate comings together, too,
are precious gifts;
celebrate their blessings
and allow them to flourish.

 

© Ken Rookes 2015

Whose wife will she be?

When we have finished living,
after we die,
we will continue to exist; in some form.
So Jesus is recorded as saying
as he responds to the improbable scenario
put to him by a group Sadducees
endeavouring to ridicule
notions of resurrection.
This state of eternal existence will be quite unlike
that which we have previously known,
here among earth’s red dust;
he tells them.
Don’t expect family reunions,
welcoming friends
or the lovers embraces
so favoured by our imaginative reassurances
in times of grief.
And there will be no opportunity
to complete or to add
to the life that has been concluded.
The goodwill we have sown,
the love we offered,
the peace we made,
the grace by which we lived
and the hope, joy and laughter
we spoke, danced and sang;
these alone will stand.
Gentle, sometimes unnoticed,
they witnesses to the reality
of our faith and worship.

It is enough.
Would it be so terrible
if the Sadducees were right?
© Ken Rookes 2014

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 Saducees’ question

Having ruled in red ink
a line under life,
some Saducees ask their famous riddle
about the woman, seven times widowed;
the one which has caused
great rabbis and learned scribes
to stumble.
This self-styled teacher
from the northern extremes
should be easily ensnared
and made to look ridiculous.
But the teacher is already captive
to a glorious vision
of life in abundance;
a boundless gift
from a limitless and ever-living God.
Laughing at their keyhole view,
the teacher speaks of hope
and freedom
in the coming age of resurrection.
Soaring unconfined,
his truth mocks the Saducees’
pitiable attempts to enclose.
Rendered speechless,
there will be no more questions.
 

© Ken Rookes

Another poem responding to this story can be found here