“A Convict’s Symphony”
The system believes that Christ would
never have any dealings with me.
A gangsta’ who ran the streets.
Welcome to this convict’s symphony,
Please forgive me,
But there’s no violins playing in this soliloquy.
The Messiah came to redeem me of
It’s been almost two millennia since He
obediently embraced his destiny.
What was that you said to me?
“Jesus despises people like me!” Continue reading
INSIGHTS, 17 YEARS IN PRISON
by Matthew B. Harper
A month ago I met with two wonderful clergy, and our conversation meandered into fruitful territory. An important conversation, it was also the kind you can’t prepare for. So when our wandering words brought us to an important precipice, and I was invited to jump off, I quailed. Seventeen years of incarceration and over thinking about my crimes has led me to an untold number of insights and revelations so imagine my regret when, after being invited to share some, I failed at the task.
Apostolic Letters from Prison
In the book Ministry with Prisoners & Families: The Way Forward, Madeline 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 (140).
Inspired by her letter, several PrisonLectionary.net contributors took up the same task. The second comes to us from “AMN .”
In case you missed the first, you can find it here.
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.