When I read Luke 16:1-13, I am forced to think about the state of American politics today, where we find certain political families who have never once planted a crop, offered a legitimate service, traded a single good at market nor invented or assembled one widget. Yet somehow they were able to amass a fortune worth hundreds of millions of dollars. An impossibility for a career in public service, making it more than obvious that they are selling the favors of their positions much like the steward in this reading. These sorts are always in the press, going form one scandal to the next, lying their way to higher and higher offices, with no end in sight.
Due to circumstances beyond our control there will not be a reflection on the liturgical texts for this Sunday. Instead, look for several non-lectionary contributions over the next few days and a new lectionary reflection for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost.
Psalm 71 is one of my very favorite psalms. In fact, there was a time in my life when I recited this psalm three times each night before bed, from memory. To me, this psalm speaks to the plight of not only the prisoner, but anyone who finds themselves ensnared in our criminal justice system. The first five verses alone sum up the majority of my most common prayers as a prisoner.
What person who has ever been at the business end of criminal prosecution cannot relate to verses 9 through 11? I know that whenever I read these verses I cannot help but to visualize the three prosecutors assigned to my case, sitting around a long conference room table like the Bond villains of SPECTRE, saying things to each other like, “This God-forsaken dirtbag! Let’s do whatever we have to do to put him away for as long as we can. Who can stop us?”
Every person serving an extended sentence thinks about and worries about how old he will be when or even if he is ever released. For instance, if I am forced to serve all of my current sentence, I will be over 65 when I am paroled What sort of life will I have left? How will an old used up ex-con ever find gainful employment? Even if I am somehow able to keep myself up to date on the current technologies and the swiftly changing demands of contemporary employers, what sort of physical condition will I be in after so long a period of forced inactivity, eating sub-nutritious foods, under sub par healthcare? Most at that age would be unable to get out of bed and get around to go to work.
What of my other needs? What sort of family support can I expect to still have? Will anyone even still be living? These thoughts are constant stressors that plague the minds of those subjected to long-term incarceration. Countless times I have prayed that the Almighty will not forsake me in my old age when I am grey-headed. Every incarcerated believer knows that our Heavenly Father is our only means of support we can be sure of. Thankfully, He is also the only means of support anyone ever needs.
During times of heightened danger the administration at this institution will declare a Level 1 Lockdown to be in effect. During such a lockdown, all prisoners must be handcuffed behind their backs before opening the doors at their cells, no exceptions. This procedure helps keep everyone safe until the time of heightened danger passes.
“Right Place, Right People, Right Time”
Psalm 80:1-3, 8-19
There is a particular location where one’s gift fits perfectly. There are particular people among whom your genius will be most appreciated. And there is a particular time when the stage is ready for your grand entrance. It is one’s true purpose to create the point at which these elements converge for the glory of God in the uniqueness of your life.
“Our True Nature”
Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
I often hear people say that this country is a godly nation and I see people take pride when “God Bless America” gets played. In Isaiah’s day, the Kingdom of Judah felt the same exact way about their nation. Who could blame them? With direct access to God, the beautiful temple of Solomon and having more priests and Levites than the ‘hood has liquor stores; it put the other tribes in the Northern Kingdom to shame.
by Kwame Toure Kagale
“The Trampling of My Courts”
“When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?”
– Isaiah 1:12 –
I was lost and alone,
behind these bars of steel.
Afraid of what was ahead of me,
with no one to appeal.
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
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?
“WHO SET THE CAPTIVES FREE”
Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19)
by Kwame Toure Kagale
As I lay still in my cell,
wondering why I am still
My heart is eager oh Lord,
until the morning comes
of which I can hardly wait.
by Matthew B. Harper
Psalm 52 or 82
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.”