PRAYER FOR THE DAY Monday 18th June
Good morning. The church of which I am part recently commissioned a new chaplain to work in Northern Ireland’s high security prison just outside Belfast. Graham will be part of a team of chaplains from the Christian churches and other faith groups, providing support to inmates and their families – in addition to the large community of people who live and work within the prison gates as teachers, cooks, administrators, officers and governors. It’s a unique calling in a place like no other.
Jesus said that doing the kind of work Graham is doing was a good thing. In fact he identified himself with prisoners when he reminded his friends that if they neglected to visit people in prison they were refusing to help him. Prisons are places of separation – where all too easily, inmates are out of sight and out of mind to the rest of us. There is an argument that this is as it should be – after all, every crime deserves a punishment - just as there is a counter-argument that a really good society which knows how to flourish, will invest in the broken, the law-breakers, the separated, so that life can begin again for them, when their debt is paid.
It’s probably true to say that all of us are prisoners – even if the walls and gates which constrain us aren’t necessarily physical. People with the compassion of Graham have a rare gift – and we honour them today as they go about their work.
Lord God, for those in prison today, whether behind walls of concrete, or in cells of our own circumstances, bring release from our burdens, and the good news of true freedom in Christ’s name. Amen.