Sunday, January 27
The Lord’s Day
Minute for Mission: Criminal Justice
Criminal and justice: mutually exclusive words, unless justice is understood as “punishment.” In the Old West, “bringing someone to justice” meant that the bad guy was going to face the music.
Understood this way, justice is always bad news for someone.
But as Christians rooted in the Reformed faith, Presbyterians understand that justice and mercy are inseparable aspects of God’s nature. From the clothing of Adam and Eve upon their departure from the Garden to Jesus’ last words on the cross (“Father forgive them”), we understand mercy and justice to be two sides on the coin of redemption.
Ask Theo about redemption. Incarcerated for 40 of his 63 years, he finally connected with the Presbytery of Hudson River’s prison ministry, led by Hans Hallundbaek. Theo is now a free man and about to publish his autobiography, A Wretch Like Me: Memoirs of a Felon.
Participants at the organizational gathering of the Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network—a network of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association—met Theo and heard his story at Stony Point in February 2012.
They also heard a story of restorative justice from New Zealand. A young man broke into a car and stole a camera, in the process erasing precious family pictures. Although the photos were irretrievably lost, the family recognized that the young man was not and so agreed to an installment repayment plan for damages done.
These and similar accounts led network members to commit themselves to work for the transformation of our criminal justice system and to resource other Presbyterians called to the same work—because redemptive justice is good news for everyone.
—Rev. Trina Zelle, national organizer/executive director, Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA)
Let us pray
Creator God, lover of all persons, we thank you for the mercy you extend to each one of us every day. Even as we petition for the health and safety of our loved ones, we also pray for the redemption and wholeness of your creation and all your children. Make us instruments of your merciful redemption,
O God, even as we build our lives on it. In the name of your son, Jesus, who died a criminal’s death that we might live. Amen.
Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
Neh. 8:1–3, 5–6, 8–10
Open My Eyes That I May See
PH 324, HB 390
God’s Law Is Perfect and Gives Life
1 Cor. 12:12–31a
In Christ There Is No East or West
PH 439, HB 479
Live Into Hope