Sunday 8th October

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you O lord , for you are our Rock our Strength and our comforter.  Amen

Every year, the Christian community comes together for a week of prayer and reflection centred around those affected by prisons: prisoners and victims, their families, their communities, those working and volunteering in prisons and the criminal justice system.

One way of trying to address prison life is by exploring a concept of forgiveness.  To ‘Boldly go’ echoes the words from Hebrews to encourage us to face and enter the world of prisons, not literally but metaphorically, and to seek to restore that which is broken.

Two words spring to mind when we talk about the justice system, detention centres as well as prisons, Forgiveness and restorative justice, and this morning we shall spend a bit of time focussing on forgiveness.

My three years assisting in the Prison chaplaincy during my ministerial training grounded me in a world I had never encountered before, a world of men, stereotypes, and the mad, bad and sad people behind the metal bars.

There are some great stories of forgiveness that get into the headlines e.g. Gee Walker, the mother of Anthony who was murdered in Liverpool in 2005, in fact Anthony was killed only half a mile away from Hutton URC, where I was minister and the time.

God requires us to be forgiving, to learn forgiveness., and this week we are challenged to go there.

But there is a deeper challenge than that. We have to get on with the distasteful business of forgiving the people we find it most difficult to forgive.

Everything depends on our willingness to learn how to forgive.  That willingness is challenged every time we are really and deeply hurt by friend or stranger. When that happens we need to draw a deep spiritual breath and find a way forward… to boldly go to that place we fear to enter.

Revd Ruth Dillon