Lectionary: Epiphany 4B

jail-bars-bent

Matthew B. Harper

A Sermon for Epiphany 4B

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
1st Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28

Sometimes I think that perhaps life is simply safer and easier in prison than out. Life in here can be difficult, painful, and violent, but there is a clarity and honesty to it. The outside world, one I’ve only seen on TV and in glossy magazines for 20 years now, seems to be consumed with acrimony and judgment. Rather than bringing us closer together, new technology is just documenting how we are splitting ourselves into tribes, and casting our anger at others. We are a world in need of a savior.

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Lectionary: Epiphany 3A

“Whom Should I Fear?”

Psalm 27

by AMN

Many times over the course of my life, I became overwhelmed and fear overtook me. Anxiety set in and I began to think that my life was over and that was not going to be able to overcome.  Continue reading

Lectionary: Proper 23C / Ordinary 28C / Pentecost +21

by CM

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

When a child is born into this world it is a result of actions commenced by a myriad of individuals, none of whom happen to be the child. Of course, there are the parents but we often overlook the fact that there are four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and the number continues to increase as the generations go back. Each coupling is accompanied by a particular chain of events which brought these two people together. In some cases, continents were travelled and oceans were crossed. All of the countless events took place and have brought forth the present life which is recognized as the person you see looking back at you from the surface of a mirror. And just as you didn’t have control over the circumstances that brought forth that event, the circumstances we find ourselves in over the course of our lives are, for the vast majority of them, equally beyond our control. The one exception is the choices we make in the circumstances. Continue reading

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: “Tamar’s Tears”

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness month, we offer the following contribution by CM. The author—a male prisoner incarcerated in a maximum-security prison—reflects on the theme of violence against women by engaging in a close reading of 2 Samuel 13, the horrific story of Amnon’s rape of his sister Tamar.

“Tamar’s Tears” by CM

I am a 40 year old man who has been in prison for 22 years.  I have met men who have committed some of the most horrific acts one could possibly imagine, and many others who were indeed falsely accused.  Yet, one thing that is true for everyone in a maximum security prison is the fact that our presence on this side of the wall represents a victim on the other side of the wall; another human being, victimized by his or her fellow man, even if not the man charged.

As one who finds solace in the words written in the Bible, I turn to the text of scripture to discover a way to make sense of this experience and grasp this dynamic relationship.  This interplay between perpetrator and victim.  The workings of the mind that grants one the proverbial green light to move forward and alter another’s peace.

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Lectionary: Proper 22C / Ordinary 27C / Pentecost +20

by AMN

Lamentations 3:19-26

One of the lowest experiences in my life is the day that I got found guilty in September of 2002. I had just went through an unjust legal process and just like Jeremiah, all my strength and hope was gone. I wanted to just crawl into a corner and die.

Who would’ve thought that I would still be here fourteen years later, let alone be productive for God’s sake? The verse that rings true the most in my heart is verse 22: “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” Verse 23 goes on to say,”they are new every morning.”

I have faced many more obstacles on this track we call life and there’s one thing for sure, God is always there. When I think about all my troubles and fears and how I thought I would not make it, I realize that God had my back all along.

There’s going to be pain and there’s going to be anguish during the course of your life; but you don’t have to go through it alone. Trusting, hoping, and faithfully waiting on the LORD will get you through those hard times. If God call allow me to flourish behind concrete walls and steel bars, he can do wonders for you.

Thank you, heavenly father, your everlasting mercy and compassions are upon me daily. Please allow me to use them to bring about the praise and glory that you deserve. Amen.  

Reflection: Isaiah 26:3

by Jessica McGee

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)

A lot of people think that being in prison is easy. You don’t have to worry about bills, or politics. They think our daily life consists of standing behind bars and watching television, but they are wrong. Continue reading

Essay: “Where there is no vision…” (Prov 29:18)

This scripture reminds me of faith and the works that follow. Vision is defined as “the ability to perceive something not actually visible.” Being incarcerated with no programs on reform or education, how can one perceive hope of a better life? This is a question that is in the forefront of my mind daily.

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Lectionary: Proper 18C / Ordinary 23C / Pentecost +16

prison-Bible

Jeremiah 18:1-11

“Broken, but not Shattered”

by AMN

One of the most overlooked descriptions of our thrice holy God is that of a potter working with freshly-made clay. In the beginning of Jeremiah 19, the prophet is sent to a potter’s house to watch the craftsman work with the raw material. As Jeremiah watches the potter, he notices that it takes a second effort before the potter is satisfied with the vessel’s form. Continue reading