Good morning to you all. Thank you for coming to read this blog post – written in a bit of a hurry, just because I am not home/near a computer for most of today. Tomorrow is the same, I think, although it rathyer depends how the middle of the day pans out.
Today’s prompt reads: Prisoners do wrong, right? Why should they deserve our giving, our attention, our kindness? Prisoners are easy to forget about when it comes to generosity, and we don’t seem to mind that much. And yet Jesus flips that notion on the head, with His command to love our neighbours and, more specifically, to love captives. Our giving can have huge ramifications here. Just one area? In the UK, one child in 15 will experience a parent being imprisoned, with the implications felt for years after.
And the challenges are:
GREEN: For good reasons, you can’t just walk up to a prison with a big bag of doughnuts. As a quick start today, check out www.prisonhope.org.uk and get clued up on Prison Hope. Sign up for weekly ‘Pray with Us’ prayer emails through 2017.
AMBER: Connect with a national organisation like Prison Fellowship, and join their Angel Tree project to help prisoners keep in touch with their children. Or, you could make a regular commitment to write to someone in prison through Letter Link. Find out more at www.prisonfellowship.org.uk.
RED: Take a look at The Welcome Directory (www.welcomedirectory.org.uk) to find out what you can do to make your church a welcoming and supportive place for people coming out of prison. There’s lots of evidence that being part of an intentional community helps people who don’t want to offend again. Maybe your church can become part of that welcome and support and build good links with your local prison.
You can read the meditation over here
It is inevitable that some of the Acts are going to resonate and appeal to different people more than others; it is true that some will seem more relevant, or easier, or something that we want to do.
Which is good. And normal.
But of course, the flip side is that there are going to be Acts that don’t appeal, that you can’t quite see how you can fulfil them, maybe you don’t even want to fulfil them. And this is one of those for me.
It’s not that I disagree with the meditation, the prompts, the sentiment behind it, the words of Jesus. It’s just that this hasn’t ever seemed to be what God has asked me to do.
Prisons and prisoners have never really impinged on my conciousness that much – except when I was involved with Amnesty International, which I stopped when we moved to France. There were a couple of times when the C.U. at college went to a couple of services at the chapel in Winchester Prison…at which I felt extremely uncomfortable. Oh, and once I went into Milton Keynes prison to do my one-woman “ThoughtWaves” show – Yes, OK, so I have been slightly more involved than I first thought!
But today’s Acts? Yes, I’m outside my comfort zone here – and I’m not even sure why. Perhaps I’m worried that this might call on me to make a long term commitment that (as per my list in Act 1) I’m rather unwilling to make? This is an Act I want to sweep under the carpet and pretend I wasn’t asked to do…I suppose the easiest is the Green Act, which calls on us to pray. Ah, yes, but (whisper it softly) my prayer life is so haphazard that even that seems a bit tricky! I also have to admit that this seems like a bit of a cop-out as well…I don’t want to do anything else, so I will pray and pretend that counts, when really I’m doing it because I don’t want to do anything else.
But I think that’s what I’m going to do.
So here’s the deal. I will print out the prayer resorces from the Prison Hope & Prison Fellowship sites. I will set my phone alarm to an appropriate time. For the next month, at least, I will take 5 minutes to pray for prisoners, & those who work with them. And tomorrow there will be another Act that fills me with joy!