Rocky Road

Matthew 16:13-20 goes bush

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Fishing, sinking, flailing, drowning
Blustering, flustering, arguing, clowning
Sometimes trusting, oft with a lurch –
On this rock Christ builds his church.

Setting out with Christ to walk his way
Recognising that our faith can sway,
Devoted to grow and serve and search –
On this rock Christ builds his church.

Some keys and a rooster tell Peter’s story
Seems stars and mud lead him to glory
On all of this does our pilgrimage perch
For on this rock Christ builds his church.

(c) Dennis Ryle 2020

She came asking…

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AZGAN MjESHTRI on Unsplash

Matthew 15:21-28

She came asking for help, I don’t know why
she thought the Boss would turn and meekly comply
He needed a break, so we had come far away
To this place we could hide and have some rest and some play.

She shouted and clamoured and broke through our line.
We’re not really bodyguards and she refused to decline.
We plead with the Boss to send her forthwith.
He agreed telling her, “I’m not for you; it’s my own that I’m with.”

“Evenso,” cried she, “I’m hanging about.
Any leftovers there are, I claim – don’t you doubt!”
The Boss looked astounded, and turned with a grin.
“Take what you need. And, boys? See how she’s not out, but in!”

(c) Dennis Ryle

Getting wet feet


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Matthew 14:22-33

Photo by Tommaso Fornoni on Unsplash

My Dad knew a bloke who could teach me to swim
My seven year self set off feeling grim
This whole new experience filled me with doubt
Nevertheless, togs and towel after school I set out.

The Port Canal was the place where we mustered
A small group of kids and a bloke where we clustered
He had a harness and a long bit of rope
One waited one’s turn ‘twixt dread and hope.

My turn came and I stood full of fear
“When I say ‘Now’ just jump off the pier.”
Counterphobic me, I failed to wait.
I jumped right in and encountered my fate.

The rope was slack and I sank right down
I spluttered and splashed thinking I might drown
The bloke hauled me in saying, “Too quick, young man,
Learn to trust directions if you possibly can.”

I read of Peter getting out of the boat
Walking on water! Better than afloat!
The Christ had summoned him, had called him ahead
Peter started out well, then sank full of dread.

Christ hauled him in asking “Where’s your trust?”
Your transformation means risks are a must.
Risks on your own are a pattern to avoid
Keep your focus on me and you’ll always be buoyed.”

(c) 2020 Dennis Ryle

Economy of abundance

a refection on the Feeding of the Multitudes in Matthew 14:13-21

Photo by Anna Guerrero on

The people are hungry; the people are sick
Send them away, the numbers are thick
They’ve followed you here, its all their fault
Something’s got to give, let’s call it a halt.

“Feed them yourselves, you know the way
No need to shirk and send them away
You’ve been with me now and learned a lot
Dig down deep and share what you’ve got.”

Some bread and some fish; that’s all we can spare!
“Well, sit them all down and we’ll get them to share.
There’ll be plenty to eat and none will be empty
The fear of scarcity must bow to the economy of plenty.”

So we did what he asked and all were replete
They went home full; and they felt quite complete
The “kindom” of God had shown us anew
That the resources we have will get us all through.

(c) 2020 Dennis Ryle

Riddle me

a reflection on the Parables of Matthew 13

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“Riddle-me riddle-me riddle-me-ree,
Perhaps you can tell what this riddle may be:
As deep as a house, as round as a cup,
And all the king’s horses can’t draw it up.”

These childhood rhymes from long years past
Taught by our parents, oh what a blast!
Oh what agony, Oh what bliss
As we struggled to answer, but only by guess!

So does the Christ with seed and yeast
Birds, fields and pearls – to say the least.
Fish, angels, fire and gnashings of teeth
All in parables for us to bequeath!

“The struggle to know is blessed,” says he
The kingdom of heaven is no mystery.
Stretch to see treasures both new and old
And recognise their value, you don’t have to be told.

Well, what is so deep? Well, what is so round?
Well, what is so strong against horses that pound?
Well, tell me the answer – stop grinning with glee
‘Tis before your eyes if you’ll but open them and see!

(c) 2020 Dennis Ryle

Let it Be

A meditation on the Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat

There are rotten folk among us while we are trying to do good
While we work to patch the world up, they’d prevent us if they could.
Let’s raise a holy army to rout them out with glee.
But You come and tell a story that counsels “Let it be.”

Manus, Nauru, Villawood – you’d not let us have our say?
Uluru and its Statement, surely this reflects your way?
Why should we sit and watch while injustice has its spree?
How can You sit and advise us to just let it be?

“You misunderstand the import of the way My Kindom lurks.
Yes, you labour on the land and your good deed often works.
The outcome is not yours to determine or to see.
Discernment and trust is required to let it be.”

Do not be alarmed if your labour seems in vain
Justice has a long arc that bends towards its reign
Time will bring an answer for all the world to see
The work of transformation oft includes just “Let it be!”

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

(c) 2020 Dennis Ryle

Wasted Words?

A reflection on the Sower Parable in Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

“Words are trucks full of meaning,” he said.
Sent out from the source of our head.
The import bestowed on those so endowed
With hearing determines their spread.

A reach to the heart is what’s needed
And life throws out much to impede it.
Words and deeds go to waste, even done without haste
Although some dig deep and are seeded.

So fling good words around and let them abound
The bin is full and replete with much grace
Let them land where they will; some will multiply still
And fill lives where there was once empty space.

(c) 2020 Dennis Ryle

But John held up a mirror…

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My experimental “bush poetry”approach to the lectionary has elicited a mixed reaction. Some love it; others plead with me not to give up my day job (but I’m retired!) Anyhow, here’s a go at the Gospel for this Sunday, which is:

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
   we wailed, and you did not mourn.”
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’ …

… At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

Yeah, in this game there are no winners
We all compete amongst sinners
Each knows what is best, and with lots of zest
Seek to prove that we’re not beginners.

But John held up a mirror
We hid and decried him as queerer
The Human One came; we said much the same
and urged him to come no nearer.

Wisdom evades those deemed “wise,” said he
‘Tis the simple who ‘get’ mystery
‘Twas so ordained, though you all complained
That your efforts leave little to see.

If life proves tough following me
You’re right as right as can be
But come have a rest; indeed, be my guest
and together, we’ll set people free.

(c) 2020 Dennis Ryle

Meet the Pub Test!

I’m trying something different after decades of writing homilies guided by the Revised Common Lectionary. Two years after release from the weekly necessity to deliver, I still find myself wedded to the rhythm of the three year cycle, particularly where the Gospels are concerned. Although I am occasionally granted the opportunity to deliver a harangue I find myself looking for a different medium to keep exploring the rich depth of the Gospel pathways to Christ-likeness.

Then it hit me – Bush Poetry – Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson knew how to get to the nub of things with this oddly Ocker laconic gifting to the literary world. Their works have sat on my shelves since forever.

So let’s give it a go with this Sunday’s text from Matthew 10:40-42:

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

I rode the rails the other day; the car was in the shop.
A bit of strife, however – my Smartrider was a flop.
Expired it was, a quandary dire, no cash to buy a pass.
Up stepped a bloke to pay my way, I said “You’ve got some class!”

“No worries, mate! One day ’twill be your turn.
Just pay it on – it’s something we can learn.
Last week I found myself a little in a pickle
No water coming from my taps, not even a bitty trickle.

Bills were paid, the meter made – I searched the reason why
I scratched my head ’til I was red, then Joe came breezing by.
‘It’s roots!’ he said. ‘They’ve choked off your supply.’
A plumber he, he set to work. The hours they flew by.

The water flowed and Joe packed up, his work was done at last.
‘What do I owe?’ and Joe just grinned; he thought it was a blast.
‘On the house! What are good neighbours for?’
With that he winked while I just blinked as he went out the door.

‘Holy Joe’ the street had called him, as he drove round in his van.
Somehow the word had got around, “There’s Joe – a Jesus fan!”
I found it wasn’t in his Bible, it wasn’t in his speech.
It was in his welcome and his deeds, that’s how he spread his reach.”

So all you holy rollers, take heed of Holy Joe
If you would welcome Jesus, ’tis the stranger where he’ll show
“Preach gospel, and if need, use words,” St Francis said it best.
And when you dare to try it out, make sure it meets pub test.


Well it may improve with practice!

Into the Hole He Goes!

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“In the name of the Father, the Son and into the hole he goes!”

Thus a seven year old evoked the blessing of the mystery of the Trinity as he buried his deceased canary.

Over fifty years of church ministry, I have never been able to satisfactorily explain to Western conditioned minds the phenomenon of Trinitarian theology. As Trinity Sunday approaches, I muse on my frustration.

Trinity Sunday on the traditional church calendar is the Sunday after Pentecost. It seems as though we’ve been on this long, and deep spiritual journey – 100 days, in fact, from the time some disciples witnessed an event on top of a mountain that suggested there was more to Jesus than met the eye. From that occasion there was the fraught Lenten journey to Jerusalem, the arrest, trials and crucifixion of Jesus, his resurrection appearances, ascension and descent of the Holy Spirit and her charge to be the presence of Christ throughout the world for all time to come. The teachings and formulas of Trinity Sunday can seem almost as if this process can be tied up in a neat bow and put on a shelf. It can divert us from the wonder of the continuing journey and replace it with confusion and argument.

My conclusion is that you cannot explain Trinity. It is best to see that it is about relationship and live accordingly. We have the mechanical formulae and its attendant dangers of error that can divert us from the reality of the experience – that God catches us up in the lived unity of the ways in which God reveals God-self through creation, incarnation and Spirit. I have sometimes mused that the call for humanity to be caught up in this loving dynamic makes for a “quadricity” but this would only add to philosophical confusion.

Maybe the child burying the canary in sweet innocence has the best grasp of it all!