Struggling to believe

Haiku for faithful doubters

Thomas, called the Twin,
wasn’t there with the others,
struggled to believe.

The resurrection;
life constructed out of death,
the seed bursting forth.

Jesus reaches out,
speaks words of acceptance, life;
inviting us all.

Thank you, friend Thomas,
for your precious gifts to us,
your doubts and struggles.

Jesus shows us faith,
Thomas teaches honest doubt.
We need both of them.

Embrace your questions.
Faith is not opposed by doubt;
no, but by fear.

 

© Ken Rookes 2017

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Proof

The previously-dead Jesus meets with Thomas
and invites his sceptical friend
to extend his hand,
to touch his master’s injured hands and side.
This, according to gospel-writer John,
is the incontrovertible proof
that his Lord lives.

We find it less convincing.
Nor do the various reported signs work for us
in quite the same way that they did for the evangelist.
two thousand years ago.
What evidence, then,
might persuade you and I that our master is alive?

The generous acts of his followers? Perhaps.
Loving deeds of disciples? Maybe.
Lives spent courageously for the sake of justice, hope,
and the gospel?
Yes,
such as these could be sufficient
to satisfy the rest of us sceptics.

 

©Ken Rookes 2016

 

 

 

Good news story No. 4

 

Thomas the questioner
refuses to accept the unbelievable:
Good for him!
I’m there alongside Thomas;
let some of the criticism
that gospel-teller John sprays in his direction
paint my body, too.
In the end, we are told,
when he meets the impossibly revitalised
person of the man he had watched die,
Thomas puts aside his scepticism.
I suppose I would, too,
if invited by the risen Jesus
to touch his hands and side.

The good-news purveyor
writes of a resurrection far beyond
encounters with the risen Jesus.
There are generations
who will not have opportunity
to comprehend with their eyes,
but who will be none-the-less be blessed
with believing, perceiving, rather,
in their hearts.
They follow resurrection’s improbable promise
of justice, hope and love;
treading with faith
that foolish and costly path through death,
towards life.

 

 

© Ken Rookes 2015

Disciples of the outer-circle

Let me join you, Thomas,
out here in the outer-circle of disciples;
along with other questioners and doubters.
Here I shall make my home among those
for whom creedal recitations
and orthodox affirmations
seem increasingly less relevant.
(Discipleship, we all know, has only one test.)
Our wonderings will be loud,
and our speculations wild and free;
none shall be offended,
perhaps not even God.
In our outer-circle orbit,
always at risk,
we will repeat the stories and tell new ones,
and do our best to love into reality
the kingdom of which the Master spoke.
Defying the sadness and the fear
we will announce in word and deed
the mysterious presence of He who died.
I like to think that we would do so
even if the tomb had not been emptied;
and, if, one day,
the Master’s earthly remains were to be found,
it would make no difference.

© Ken Rookes, 2014

Get on with it, Thomas

In the business of faith, so-called,
words are gathered on paper,
sorted into groups,
numbered and annotated,
printed with indelible ink,
framed behind glass
and made into standards
behind which combatants assemble
and accuse their opponents
of heresy and betrayal,
and by which fellow humans
are categorised as being in or out.
But faith is not about words,
or being right,
(or, even more importantly,
not being wrong);
faith is responding to grace
and risking all
on the wild adventure
of life and of love.
When, a week after he was raised,
Jesus told Thomas to stop doubting
and to have faith,
he was not so much worried
about the content of his beliefs
or his ability to put aside his questions,
or so it seems to me,
but simply telling him to get on with it.
Get on with it, Thomas.

© Ken Rookes

Every year



Every year

we hear again the story

of the sceptical dismissal

of the resurrection reports by Thomas

Every year, at least on this day,

we get to celebrate restless enquirers

and affirm their questioning.

Let us hear it for those who trepidly wear

the label of ‘agnostic;’

men and women of integrity

who are willing to admit

that they simply don’t know.

They remind us all

of the sad limitations of certainty.

Hurray for all those carefully considered

unbelievers; it was god

(however she is conceived)

who gave them their enquiring minds.

They help keep the good christians on their toes

and bless them with a boundary

to their smugness.

Be grateful for Richard Dawkins

and all the other evangelising atheists;

without them our own literalisers

and fundamentalists would run

rampant and unchecked.

Every year we are prompted to rejoice

in those with reservations;

questioners, doubters,

sceptics, cynics

and all who struggle to believe.

Give thanks to your god for the dear people

whose objections keep us honest,

and who lead us once again

back to the Galilean teacher

to listen to what he really said.

© 2012 Ken Rookes