Script - Canon Noel Battye - Monday 23rd October
For three years in more troubled times I was a deputy chaplain in Crumlin Road then one of Belfast’s more high profile prisons.
The inmates ranged from petty burglars and embezzlers to terrorists and murderers.
In all of my time there (usually over the summer months) I cannot remember any man who believed he was completely responsible for his crime - and even if he had been, he would tell you there were many others outside - apparently respectable, far worse than he had ever been except that they had got away with it.
Again there was almost a hierarchy of self-righteousness among them.
In fact one of their number, who had what he called ‘done’ my own Rectory, proudly drew my attention to the fact that unlike other so and sos he never left a mess!
And he was right, for I had suffered from those as well!
Guilt it seems, depends on who you choose to compare yourself with!
Not that you and I are that much better in that respect of course!
When we do wrong, or say things which we afterwards regret we’re often more concerned with the shame of being quoted or found out than with the incident itself...
We find it very hard to confess that we are in the wrong, which is why it can be easier to use the words of the psalmist to express that which seldom gets past our own lips in the normal course of things:
“my sin is ever before me,
against you only O Lord, against you only have I sinned
and done this evil in your sight
create in me a pure heart O Lord
and renew a right spirit within me"
or put more simply
Lord, forgive me, for I have been wrong in what I have said or done and help me this day make a new beginning. Amen.