Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118
Colossians 3:1-4
Matthew 28:1-10 jail-bars-bent

by Matthew B. Harper

Prison, with a sentence of any length, is a death. It is one of those experiences that changes you forever. Even if your sentence is short, whatever comes next will be touched by your time in prison. This death is more profound when you have a longer sentence, as I do. Coming to prison meant that my old life, and the plans and dreams I had, all died. Acknowledging that was a long and painful grieving process. It felt like the end of my world, and in a way it was.

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Poem: “Reconcile” (Colossians 1)

by Kwame Toure Kagale

As I look at what my life has been like for me I often feel like I am a survivalist on the path of self destruction.

In 1990 “Self Destruction” was a number one song but that was more than 20 years ago and we still haven’t gotten the message.

Does every black man feel this way or am I the exception, just some twisted contradiction from my true reflection of GOD’s perfection? Continue reading

Lectionary: Proper 13C / Ordinary 18C / Pentecost +11

Proper 13C / Ordinary 18C / Pentecost +11

What is the point of prison?

by Matthew B. Harper

Hosea 11:1-11 or Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
Psalm 107:1-9, 43
Colossians 3:1-11
Luke 12:13-21

With over two million men and women incarcerated in America today, and millions more under custodial supervision, it is perhaps time to ask ourselves, what’s the point?

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Lectionary: Proper 11C / Ordinary 16C / Pentecost +9

by Matthew B. Harper

Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52 or 82
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

Amos is one of the most relevant books of the Minor Prophets, and one of the least known. Sequestered at the tail end of our Old Testament, these books sit seldom used. Called “minor” only because they pale in length compared to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (doesn’t everything). These are not minor words from God. Some of our great treasures, like words to “do justice and love mercy,” or the timeless tale of Jonah and the fish, come from these books. It is from Amos that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King quoted when he cried for “justice to roll on like a river.”

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“Time-Released Details” (1st Sunday after Christmas)

1st Sunday after Christmas Day – December 27

1st Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Luke 2:41-52; Colossians 3:12-17

“Time-Released Details”

by CM

A parallel between the Old Testament reading and our Gospel reading is that we’re observing a moment of boyhood in the lives of two individuals who are intrinsically linked across the span of many generations: Samuel and Jesus. One eternally occupies the Throne of David as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our Savior Jesus; while it was Samuel who became the man that inaugurated the line of Israel’s royalty and anointed its first two kings.

We also see the hearts of two mothers—Hannah and Mary—women who have prayed, dedicated their lives to faithfully carrying out the requirements of the law as a result of their devotion to God, and two women who have divine insight into the destiny of their special boys, even if they lacked the details. And it’s in the lack of details that the real value of the faith journey is revealed.

These mothers, looking at their boys, both of them products of God’s word to them in “time release” form. Who can say with certainty what the details of a boy’s manhood will look like? Yet, as is pointed out—in 1st Samuel 2:26, in relation to Samuel and Hannah; and in Luke 2:52, in relation to May and Jesus—both moms watched their boys grown in stature and in favor with God and men as they transitioned from boyhood to manhood.

So I ask you now, what has been produced in your life pursuant to your relationship with God which unites you in your experience of that production with Hannah and Mary? What has God brought into your life on a “time release” basis? Something that requires a period of maturation?

In what ways may you yourself be that time-released gift to humanity from on high? In what ways have you ever considered that the promise and purpose of your own life may be directly linked to the life of another across the span of generations?

It is this consideration that brings forth the sacred in your life. Embrace this truth and sanctify this reality by doing all things, be they in word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus, as is pointed out in our epistle reading, Colossians 3:17.

You can imagine, coming from the perspective of an incarcerated man, scriptures that highlight transitions across the passage of time—“time-release” workings of the hand of God—are particularly encouraging. May the areas in your life that require a period of maturation be seen in new light, and as our two mothers in these readings, keep these things in your heart and be encouraged too.