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“For I was hungry and you gave me food.” Matt. 25:35

Sunday, January 26

The Lord’s Day

Minute for Mission: Criminal Justice

HOPE Pre-Release Program, Allegheny County Jail, Pittsburgh Photo by Caitlin Werth






HOPE Pre-Release Program, Allegheny County Jail, Pittsburgh

Photo by Caitlin Werth

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. (Isa. 9:1)

On one of our first dates, my wife and I passed a man in a baseball cap who was hanging out on the corner, smoking. As we got closer, he looked up. I assumed that he was going to ask for money, so I felt around in my pocket for some loose change.

But he surprised me. He didn’t want money; he wanted to thank me for visiting him in jail. The last time I had seen him, he was wearing a red prison jumpsuit. Out of context, he looked so different that I hadn’t recognized him. It was wonderful to see him out of jail. He told us how God was moving in his life. We wished him peace and said goodbye.

“I was in prison and you visited me” (Matt. 25:36b). Jail can be a desperate and hopeless place. But the God of life and love brings hope and light into even the darkest places: “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isa. 9:2).

Not all of us are called to go into the jails. Some are called to advocate for more just laws or to care for people reentering the community. There are many ways to serve, but it is the same Spirit who calls us to that service. How is God calling you to serve?

—Rev. Steven Werth, member, PHEWA/Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network leadership team; pastor, Appleby Manor Memorial and Crooked Creek United Presbyterian Churches, Ford City, Pennsylvania

Let us pray

God of boundless love, thank you for meeting us at our place of deepest need. Look with compassion on our incarcerated brothers and sisters, and on all victims of crime. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may witness to your love in the world. Amen.

Sunday Lectionary and Hymns

Isa. 9:1–4
“Break Forth, O Beauteous
Heavenly Light”
PH 26

Ps. 27:1, 4–9
“God Is My Strong Salvation”
HB 347, PH 179

1 Cor. 1:10–18
“With Joy I Heard
My Friends Exclaim”
HB 439, PH 235

Matt. 4:12–23
“Tú Has Venido a la Orilla”
(“Lord, You Have Come
to the Lakeshore”)
PH 377

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 67; 150
First Reading Genesis 13:2-18
Second Reading Galatians 2:1-10
Gospel Reading Mark 7:31-37
Evening Psalms 46; 93

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