Knowing.

The garden 
awoke: 
bathing in 
the fresh dew 
on its leaves 
and petals; 
stretching 
towards the light 
of dawn.

They knew.

The birds 
chased each other 
in the misty air,
trilling
their joy at
being alive.

They knew.

The ancient trees,
rooted deep, 
let their branches
play in the breeze, 
responding 
to the warmth 
of the rising sun. 

They knew.

The stream 
burbled its way 
with a brighter tone
while the stones 
and the dust
held their place
but in their own way

they knew.

The shimmering air,
the drifting clouds,
the mountains and valleys,
the lands and seas,
the sun, moon and stars,

they all knew ...
and waited.

First,
the women came;
focusing on 
the emptiness,
fearing the worst,
running to tell the men ...

They didn't know.

Next, 
the men,
seeing the evidence,
without understanding ...

They didn't know.

So much distress,
so many tears,
confusion 
and chaos 
swirling 
in their world.

Then, 
just as on 
that first Day,
God's Spirit
hovered,
the Son spoke ...

and they knew.



(c) 2020 Graham Oakes

The Seventh Day

Never,
since the seventh day, 
had there been 
this silence of 
accomplishment.

Not that 
the world noticed.

It had long since 
lost its sensitivity 
to eternity and 
the breathing 
of creation.

Behind the stone,
in a virgin tomb, 
lay the body of 
the Creator.

The Word that spoke,
"Let there be Light",
was contained within 
complete darkness,
just as Deity
had been contained
within human flesh.

The final sacrifice;
the ultimate definition
of "Immanuel" -
God with us:
in living,
in dying
and now
in death itself.

Outside, 
the soldiers 
nonchalantly 
do their duty.

The Pharisees
find comfort 
in their religion
but are haunted 
by his words.

The disciples, 
incredulous that
it had come to this, 
fear
for their own lives 
as those who had 
once believed ...

The women
keep watch.

And, 
as the sun 
slowly slips 
into the evening
of the seventh day,
God, 
having accomplished
all that could be done
took his Sabbath
once again ... 


(c) 2020 Graham Oakes


 

Three Crosses

Three crosses stood on Calvary's hill
struck deep to hold this dark world's ill;
but one of them bore Heaven's Light
that came to break our darkest night.

Rejection spoke in hateful tone,
“I curse you all, leave me alone”.
A life depraved lost its last chance
to look and live with just a glance.

Repentance wept for debts unpaid
and, in his agony, he prayed,
“Remember me, O Master hear,
for in your presence there’s no fear”.

Redemption hung twixt heaven and earth,
oh, who could tell its holy worth?
Repentance heard these words of grace,
“Soon, by my side, you’ll find your place”.

Three crosses stood on Calvary’s hill
with only one remembered still:
the Cross that held Love, crucified,
where, for our sake, our Saviour died.


(c) Graham Oakes

Maundy

He chose to wash disciples’ feet,
despite his majesty,
and showed them all the way of love,
his holy destiny.

Though tempted to refuse the Cup
he knows its history.
The Chosen One has made his choice
and drinks his destiny.

The Prince of Peace is judged by hate
though reason would him free.
This world will never let him rule
and change its destiny.

The Servant-King gives up his throne
to grip a cruel tree.
With hands held wide and crowned with thorns
he bore his destiny.

My God, my Saviour and my Friend
has suffered all for me.
He calls me to leave all for him
and share his destiny.

Now may I live as if I’ve died
to all that I might be
and rise with him, to live and love,
this is my destiny.



(c) Graham Oakes

Gethsemane Night

This deep and silent darkness,
this all too human fear;
this self-denying Deity,
this judgement drawing near.

This cool and fragrant garden,
this echo of the Fall;
this reason for his Passion,
this hard and heavy call.

This path of pain and sorrow,
this pruning of the bud;
this cup that must be taken,
this shedding of the blood.

This one last opportunity,
this choice to turn away;
this Love that answers for him,
this Will that means he'll stay.

This Father-Son communion,
this precious Trinity;
this loss of heaven's presence,
this fulfilled prophecy.

This waited for arrival,
this friend and solemn foe;
this end to end all endings,
this life to death must go.


(c) Graham Oakes

Palm Sunday 2020

This Holy City, silent now,

no congregating crowd;

no busy bustle in the streets,

no meetings are allowed.

But still Messiah makes his way

despite no welcome praise;

his mission, yet to be fulfilled,

the cross must still be raised.

He comes for one, he comes for all;

the sick, the lame, the lone;

he brings his comfort, peace and grace,

to make his Kingdom known.

So listen, in the silence now,

can you make out the sound?

The stones are singing out his praise,

Redemption Love abounds.

The Salute

This is something I wrote recently as a thank you to Son-in-law Daniel, who was a bearer at Mam’s funeral.

His RAF uniform was a silent reminder of Mam’s love of her life, Dad, and a fitting memorial to their happy life together.

However, it was another silent statement at the graveside that really touched me and which inspired this response …

The Salute

The fallen fill this forlorn field;
old memories hanging in the air.
Some have no monument to read
while others tell how they came there.

We who are living stand and stare
and ponder our own history.
With little thought, in deeds we write
our very own obituary.

He came with us to say farewell
who, only for a little while,
did know the one we laid to rest
yet still was captured by her smile.

He helped to bear her to the place
where that frail body now would rest.
In Airforce Blue, he proudly wore
the colour that she loved the best.

And so, we stood, in silent prayer;
commending her to heaven above
but he, in honour of her life,
saluted Nana’s grace and love.

My eyes shed tears for this small act;
my heart was filled with thankfulness;
my soul, well cheered that, at the end,
this faithful soldier’s death was blessed.

© 2018 Graham Oakes

Down memory lines …

And now we walk, where railways used to run;
when smoke and steam obscured the happy sun –
which, like today, from cloudless sky bears down
except where nature wears
its wildest verdant gown.

My memories, more distant day by day,
connect me to those trains that made their way
on winding tracks, predestined journey clear;
time-tables ruling us
each year by coal-fuelled year.

Those journeys served our bleak communities
by cheering us away to distant seas.
But soon the great improving axe was heaved
to sever lines that through
these valleys warped and weaved.

Traffic abounds on our bronchitic streets.
Convenience strives against our sacred peace.
What have we gained by those myopic schemes?
Have they at all improved
the lifestyle of our dreams?

And yet this slow, this healthy, leafy stroll
would not be mine if trains were in control.
If iron and steel defined this woody trail
I could not ramble down
its way of steam and rail.

So, though my heart would still those engines cheer
our grand-children can still find air that’s clear.
Their futures, built on sacrifices past;
O, while we have the strength,
let’s make these journeys last!

© 2018 Graham Oakes

4th Sunday in Advent: Joseph and Mary

Within the Advent journey two people faced a common challenge
but from completely different perspectives …

Joseph:

Angels,
divine intervention,
assured you of the right
to remain faithful
and be a father to the child
who could not be yours.

(Today, it would not be an issue).

But then!

It crossed your mind, of course,
to put her away –
as much for her sake as for yours.
The final act of love that you could make
to honour and protect her.

What tangled thoughts
must have engaged
your emotions and understanding?

Why me?
Why her?
Why now?

Questions every human asks
sometimes with force;
sometimes rhetorically
with just the loose comfort
of having asked them …

But,
on this occasion,
such was the enormity
of the plan you were part of,
the answer did come.

And so,
with that deepening assurance,
without any thought
to grasp at greatness,
riches or posterity,
you became the chosen man
to be the earthly father
of the Son of God! 

 

Mary:

Like a precious pearl
you grew in innocence;
quietly minding your own thoughts,
obedient to counsel
and familiar with the Word.

You were prepared
for that common destiny,
betrothed by custom,
to a man …
chosen by your family

Yet,
such tradition
could not prepare you
for your true calling;
beyond comprehension,
beyond custom,
beyond man …

Your open purity,
your obedient heart,
your submissive will;
these became the foundation
on which the Divine Choice
was made
and the Eternal Promise
revealed.

Innocence is always
vulnerable to attack
by that dark perversion
which devastates
our broken world.
Neither does it escape
the taunts of
unfaithfulness and
hypocrisy …

But you,
overshadowed
by nothing less
than the Holiness of God,
received Heaven’s Incarnate Light.

From the obscurity of the womb
the Light of the World
would spring
and,
as the Innocent Man,
rebirth our innocence
through grace and truth.