My Father’s House

Angry haiku

It’s early in John,
the confrontation is there
from the beginning.

The powerful ones
who rule religion, are scared
of his freedom words.

In Jerusalem
the temple stands for order;
ancient traditions.

Through the temple’s gates
he strides, his angry vision
impels him to act.

Upsets ev’rything;
sheep, cattle, money changers.
This is not God’s house!

Show a sign, they say,
that proves your right to do this.
Will my body do?

Not yet a sign, but
one will be given: Three days,
then resurrection!

Come again, Jesus;
drive them out, those who pervert
your words with their lies.

They are many still
who choose power, not the cross;
or the costs of love.

© Ken Rookes 2021

Birth Stories

Haiku for underscoring

Luke tells his stories;
birth stories to underline
Jesus’ importance.

Righteous and devout,
Simeon had been promised
he would see the Christ.

Old man Simeon
came timely to the Temple,
led by the Spirit.

Met the family,
took the child, lifted his voice:
Let me go now, God.

You have promised me,
I have seen your salvation:
light and life for all.

This child is destined
to upset the privileged
and confront the smug.

There will be much pain.
Always there is pain when God’s
new order breaks through.

Anna, the prophet,
also very old, joins in,
to speak words of hope.


© Ken Rookes 2020

Portents in the skies

Haiku for the watchful

Let the walls crumble!
The temple no longer serves;
welcome the new thing!

Portents in the skies.
How we love to speculate,
what does it all mean?

Don’t be led astray.
Test their claims; do they measure
up to love’s standard?

Coming in the clouds!
Expectations have worn thin
in two millennia.

Is it really near?
Is the Son of Man coming
to end history?

These understandings
from two thousand years ago;
are we bound by them?

Everything passes.
His words remain to give life,
calling us to love.

Be watchful with love.
Be eager in your serving.
This is faithfulness.

Midnight or cockcrow
or at dawn, it matters not
if love is your guide.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Some haiku for the Narrative Lectionary, Lent 5.

Surely we’re not blind

Haiku for those who can see.

Who was the person
whose sin caused this man’s blindness?
Doesn’t work like that.

A miracle tale
as Jesus heals a blind man.
Much consternation!

The authorities
refuse to see the new thing
that God is doing.

Oppressive doctrine
is the cause of much blindness;
now, as it was then.

Blind authorities
still betray; they are captive
to lust and power.

Blindness all around.
We quite like this blissful state;
pretend innocence.

No, it wasn’t me;
I’ve not seen their suffering,
do not know their pain.

Surely we’re not blind!
If you were, you’d have no sin;
but your sin remains.

He comes seeking us;
the one who opens closed eyes.
Let us see, Jesus.


© Ken Rookes 2020

Look at these stones

Haiku for upheaval

The physical realm
strides to the front: Look at me,
my beautiful stones!

Humankind built me
to honour God, or perhaps
for their own honour.

Not one of these stones
will remain standing, he said.
All will be thrown down.

The time is coming
when this temple is rubble,
and all it stands for.

When will these things be,
what will be the sign of them?
How can we prepare?

You cannot prepare.
There will be upheaval, wars
and dreadful portents.

They will arrest you,
lock you up, hand you over;
be ready to speak.

My words will be yours,
wisdom too. You will suffer,
some of you will die.

But you will endure.
I am with you, and your souls
are held in my hand.


© Ken Rookes 2019.

The boy Jesus

He was twelve years old
when he went with his fam’ly
to Jerusalem.

Nobody missed him
amidst all the confusion
of the festival.

The fam’ly heads home.
A day into the journey
they note his absence.

At last they find him
sitting among the teachers
in the great temple.

The twelve year old boy
holds his own with his questions
and his perception.

They were astonished,
his parents. They chastised him,
Why have you done this?

Why did you seek me?
You should have known where to look;
in my Father’s house.

In twenty years’ time.
He will return for the feast
and the conclusion.


© Ken Rookes 2018

Birth Pangs

Haiku for a new order

Leaving the temple
the disciples were impressed;
like country cousins.

How big the stones are,
and look at the large buildings!
Nothing like back home!

Don’t be overawed!
These buildings, too are passing;
all will be thrown down.

The old religion
has failed. It will pass away.
Just like the temple.

When will these things be,
what will be the sign? they asked
when they were alone.

Don’t be led astray.
Mind my words, don’t trust any
who say, “I am he!”

You will hear of wars,
and strife among the nations;
do not be alarmed.

There will be famines
and natural disasters;
keep trusting in me.

These are the birth pangs
of God’s kingdom ruled by love;
it will surely come.

Old religion still
holds so many in its sway.
Let’s open our eyes!


© Ken Rookes 2018

Behaving recklessly

Haiku for the angry

In Jerusalem
people gather for the feast;
things are heating up.

The Passover nears
time to remember; recall
God’s saving actions.

As is his practice,
Jesus behaves recklessly,
upsets good order.

Goes to the temple,
where he observes the commerce
and money changing.

The man gets angry,
makes a whip from cords of rope,
drives the traders out.

Escaping doves soar,
as tables are overturned.
Coins spill to the floor.

Take them out of here;
these instruments of Mammon
do not lead to life.

Temple is a place
for drawing near, listening,
and worshipping God.

They ask him, What right
do you have to come in here
and to do these things?

Destroy this temple
and I’ll raise it in three days.
Another riddle.


© Ken Rookes 2018.

The old people sing

Haiku of fulfillment

Old people hang out
in churches and in temples;
watching and waiting.

Something might happen.
You never know, it might be
the day God appears.

Righteous and devout,
old Simeon was patient;
he would see the Christ.

His words erupted!
This child, he would be the one;
light and salvation!

The old man blessed them.
It is enough, I’ve seen him
Let me go now, God.

He spoke to Mary.
There will arise much turmoil
on the road to peace.

Anna, the prophet,
saw the child, raised her old voice,
and joined in the song.

Wisdom and insight
come not just with the years,
but with openness.


© Ken Rookes 2017.

It was on the Sabbath Day

Haiku for those who would see.

Jesus was working;
it was on the Sabbath Day
that he healed the man.

The Pharisees freaked,
the thing was most improper;
called an inquiry.

What have you to say?
He can’t heal and break the law;
must be a sinner.

A sinner, you say?
He opened my eyes. I choose
to call him Prophet.

Yes, this is our son.
Yes, he was born without sight,
and yes, now he sees.

How did it happen?
Why are you questioning us?
Ask him, he will know!

They inquire once more:
His power must be from God,
says the seeing man.

The crowd was aroused,
the leaders were embarrassed.
So they threw him out.

Jesus found the man.
Now that you can see, he says,
keep your eyes open.

Some with eyes to see
choose the darkness over light;
they make themselves blind.


© Ken Rookes 2017