Devotion: “Life’s Journey”

by Jessica McGee

“Life’s Journey”

Jeremiah 29:11-13

When you realize that God has a plan for you, what do you do? Proverbs 16:3 says to commit my ways to God and my thoughts will be established. I suggest a purification of the heart. My heart and emotions always drive me to do things. I catch myself daily saying, “My heart knows” or “I feel wholeheartedly”about something. God has a plan for us, even a plan for our future when that seems so far away and chaotic. God knows what we need before we need it. My goal is to focus on Him knowing that His way is the best way. I’ll spend time in the Word and be a reflection of whom I serve. My ways landed me in an uncompromising position, but God’s way will land me in peace. Thank you Lord for allowing me into Your kingdom and directing me on my life’s journey. Amen.

When my road is curving towards failure-look to God to make my way straight.

 

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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

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.  

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

Letter of EB to the Churches

St SilasApostolic Letters from Prison

In the book Ministry with Prisoners & Families: The Way Forward, Madeline McClenny-Sadler writes

“What would the apostle Paul do if he heard about the mistreatment of brothers and sisters who return to our congregations and communities after being released from prison? I think we know exactly what Paul would do. Paul would write a letter!” (140)

Thus, McClenny-Sadler offers a “Letter to African American Churches Concerning the Saints Coming Home from Prison.” It uses “the hybrid style of a Pauline epistle and a scholarly article” as a call to action (ibid.)

Inspired by her letter, several PrisonLectionary.net contributors take up the same task. The first comes to us from “EB .”

Continue reading

Epiphany C4

by Matthew B. Harper

January 31, 2016

Jeremiah 1:4–10
Psalm 71:1 –6
1 Corinthians 13:1 –13
Luke 4:21 –30

Fear, Love, Wombs. today’s readings offer us a great deal to wrestle with.

God’s call is a scary thing. Scripture repeatedly shows God calling upon otherwise ordinary people to do extraordinary things through His power. Fear seems a logical response. Fear, the ever-present human emotion. Fear of not being good enough, of not measuring up. Fear of moving out of your comfort zone, into the unknown. Fear of being rejected, of being found wanting. Fear of bodily harm.

God speaks to us in our fear: “Do not be afraid.”

Why not? Why shouldn’t we fear? All our fears are entirely predictable, entirely reasonable.

“Do not be afraid” says the Lord, “For I am with you.”

WITH me? With ME? You don’t know me.

“I have known you,” Says the Lord, “since before you were in your mother’s womb.”

The words that are calling and anointing Jeremiah are unexpected. Jeremiah is a young man on the path to the priesthood when God interrupted his life. God challenged him, anointed him, and called him out of his comfort zone to serve as God’s Prophet. The rest of Jeremiah’s writings show us how powerfully God used him. His words convey the deep love God has for His people, as they are carried away into captivity. Jeremiah’s tears convey the depth of his own love for God and for God’s people.

God has known each of us since before we were formed in our mother’s womb. It is a shocking statement, a declaration to God’s omniscience. Many of us fear being that well known, that intimately watched over. We fear that if we are so well known, we will no longer be loved. We don’t want others to know our weaknesses and sins.

The psalmist, crying out for deliverance, again speaks to our fear, reminding us “I have relied upon you from my mother’s womb.”

God doesn’t just know us, God gives us life, sustains us each and every day, and gives us the love that makes life worth living. From the moment of conception we are dependent upon God for all that we are. As Christians we seek to always remember and honor that. As the psalmist finds himself beset by fear and in need of deliverance, he is comforted by the reminder of God’s omniscience and providence.

We can trust God’s knowledge of our lives because it isn’t voyeurism. God is neither “Big Brother” nor a ‘peeping tom.’ God knows us so intimately simply because God loves us. The love of God is reflected in the eyes of young lovers on their honeymoon and old lovers celebrating 60 years of marriage. It is in the face of a mother seeing her baby for the first time, and in the look of agony upon her face as she watches her son hang from the cross. It is in the eyes of Christ, on that cross, looking down upon the woman who is both His mother and His child.

A mother’s love is a special reflection of the divine love. Yesterday I had a visit with my mothers. One woman, who gave birth to me, raised me, and has never stopped loving me; and the other, who with her husband and children has chosen to love me as if she had. It was a visit full of love and laughter.

Looking around the prison visiting room, crowded on a New Year’s holiday, I was struck by how many mothers and sons I saw. These women know us. They changed our diapers, nursed us, and still stood beside us in court. When others abandon us, they visit. When the world chooses to forget us, they hold our memory precious. It is a love that was born in the womb, yet one that transcends it. As Paul reminds us, it is that love that gives value to this life and endures into the next.

Yet not every story is a good one, and so God’s work must continue. Mother’s deliver babies alone and afraid; too often mother’s die. Children are born sick, addicted, and are too often abused. There is work yet to be done.

God is calling us out. Go forth and proclaim the gospel. Do the work of loving service. Transform the world.

Fear not.

Yes, God really does want us, for God knows us and loves us from before the womb. God is with us and, when all else passes away, that love endures.

9th Day of Christmas

by Matthew B. Harper

In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 23:6)

There is no one without sin, says Paul, no one who is righteous. And I don’t know of a church where that is more clear than on any given Sunday night here in prison. If there was a gift that comes from prison faith, it is that it is grounded in the sure knowledge of our total unworthiness, and the sure knowledge of God’s loving graciousness.

I received a letter from a friend who lives in Texas yesterday. An ex-con herself, she and her husband work full-time and also minister to over 75 inmates around the country as part of the motorcycle ministry that they ride with. She is a woman devoted to God and ministry, and in her letter she thanked me for being such a blessing to her. Talk like that makes me uncomfortable.

If I were a man who thought myself righteous I could pat myself on the back and say “Of course, after all – don’t you know who I am?!” But the problem is that I do know exactly who I am. I live with me. I know all of my failings, my thoughts, my regrets, my wrongs, my sins. I am very unrighteous. And yet I trust my sister when she is telling me that she has been blessed through our friendship as much as I am.

To that there is only one response. If it isn’t me, and she would deny it is her, then it must be God. My only response can then become: “Of course, after all – don’t you know who God Is?!”

God chooses us, God loves us. God doesn’t just bless us, God uses us to bless others. I am not righteous, but God is. Praise be to God.

Sing, O sing, this blessed morn, unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, God himself comes down from heaven. Sing O sing, this blessed morn, Jesus Christ today is born. (Hymn 88)