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
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 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
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
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
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.
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 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
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
Within the Advent journey two people faced a common challenge
but from completely different perspectives …
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).
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?
Questions every human asks
sometimes with force;
with just the loose comfort
of having asked them …
on this occasion,
such was the enormity
of the plan you were part of,
the answer did come.
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!
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
could not prepare you
for your true calling;
beyond man …
Your open purity,
your obedient heart,
your submissive will;
these became the foundation
on which the Divine Choice
and the Eternal Promise
Innocence is always
vulnerable to attack
by that dark perversion
our broken world.
Neither does it escape
the taunts of
by nothing less
than the Holiness of God,
received Heaven’s Incarnate Light.
From the obscurity of the womb
the Light of the World
as the Innocent Man,
rebirth our innocence
through grace and truth.