Children of Jerusalem

Children of Jerusalem
welcome Jesus, as he welcomed you,
despite adults’ raised hands and voices;
the angry frowns and looks that could kill.

He comes for you –
let your joy be as unrestrained as his love;
be happy in his presence while you play,
it is balm to his hurting soul.

Have no ambition for this grown-up world
which has lost its way of wonder
and forgotten how to see things
as they really are.

See him on the donkey and laugh at the fun of it.
Spread your palm leaves, dance before him and
live in this precious moment.

One day you will understand
why innocent humility
entered your city and your life.

But, for now,
it is enough just to experience it
as only you,
Children of Jerusalem,
can.

(c) 2021 Graham Oakes

Pentecost pondering.

Walking
in the radiant light
of this morning’s
rising sun.

Sensing
the intangible yet
intimate presence
of that gentle breeze
engaging and inspiring
my very soul.

Hearing
the refreshing sound
of rushing waters;
clean and life-giving:
flowing with hope
and joy and
peace.

Appreciating
the journey;
the ups and downs,
highs and lows
and paths not
walked before.

Anticipating
that final bend,
the familiar door
and a glorious
welcome home.


(c) 2020 Graham Oakes

Pentecost Prayer

Oh Lord!

Forgive us
for the way
we turn your
living presence
into works of stone,
of unchanging forms
which exist for
themselves;
within which you
cannot breathe.

Forgive us,
for celebrating
your coming
as a birthday,
for one day only,
then putting
it back into the
drawer for seasons
and special occasions.

Forgive us,
that the fruit
you challenge us with
is observed as
a ‘still life’ study;
to be marvelled at
for its composition
and setting
without moving us
to desire its treasure
when revealed in us.

Forgive us,
that the gifts
you share are
denied, devalued
or desired for the
wrong reasons.

Forgive us,
that we
underestimate
their power
and your glory.

Forgive us:
for arguing
over their use
and limitations.

Forgive us:
that, in the midst
of diversity,
we ignore your
translating, 
transforming,
and unifying power.

Lord, in your mercy, forgive us:

Oh, Lord!

Redeem, restore,
revive and renew;
breathe on me,
I pray.

Indwell my tradition
with daily renewal,
my human perspective
with your heavenly vision;
refresh my stagnant backwater
with the rushing waters 
of your love; 
replace my ambition
with your 
perfect calling.

Fill me,
to overflowing;
capture me and
set me free
to serve you,
here, now
and forever.

By your amazing grace,  
Amen.

Ascension 2020

To have and to lose:
this is our human condition.

Through struggle, or gift,
we gain that which, 
through struggle or gift,
is taken away.

Transient experiences
of life elude our attempts 
to retain them.

We learn that 
our humanity 
is finite; our lives
but a vapour;
our loves and hates
live on in others,
if they live at all.

The small steps we take
are as nothing.

The earth revolves 
around the sun
and its cycles 
diminish, even more,
our grasp on time
and space.

But you ...

in your birth
you bore the hope
of nations.

In your life
dwelt all the Godhead,
bodily.

In your sacrifice
is forgiveness
for all who call.

In your resurrection
death, and all its power,
is defeated.

And then,

at your Ascension,
the Gift was 
promised ... 

Incarnate Presence,
restored with a 
more glorious
Indwelling.

Your heavenly 
humanity is all gain
and, by your Spirit,
you fill us with
the light of
your Day ...

... turning our shadows
into everlasting
Dawn.



Response to ‘The Other’ by RS Thomas

As part of the RS Thomas Poetry Appreciation Group we have been asked to write a poem in response to one of his … this is my first attempt which I posted to the group today … you can find his poem on the Intranet … it’s a beautiful read.

There is a 
wakefulness that
is not bound 
by the margins
of sleep;
an awareness that
is constant and
alive. Alive to all
there is in the
infinity and
eternity
of being.

We could not
bear it. Only One
who has borne 
our weakness and
broken our chains
hears and listens,
watches and sees,
across the ocean
that separates
and calls us
home.

The Other Tree

The Garden of Creation, now lost to one and all,
replaced by forest thickets upon whose roots we fall;
our destiny still governed by laws we always break
and all creation stumbles over the mess we make. 

The fruit for which we lusted, upon that single tree,
reminds us of our stubborn pride and failed humanity.
The other Tree was kept from us lest we should live forever;
expelled, we faced the mortal cost of our rebellious error.

But while that sin stained everyone born to the world of men
the love of God could not be dimmed and purposed, even then,
to be the way for our return into his holy place,
our restoration, full and free, by such a costly grace.

Into our world he placed the seed: his Word, his Light, his Son
and he, among us, lived and died - the hope for everyone.
The Tree of Life was lifted up to bear the Lord of All
as it became the wooden cross that broke our fateful Fall.

And once again the Garden received that perfect Man
and we began to understand the mystery of Love’s plan.
The empty cross, the empty tomb, now relics of the fight:
the darkness withers at the dawn of Resurrection Light.

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