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Communion 2009

Going To Jail

Originally scheduled for May 10

Have you ever been to jail? Thousands of Christians have, not as criminals but as those involved with various prison ministries. It’s not easy to recruit volunteers for this ministry; some people feel that prison might just be contagious. Indeed, it’s not for the faint-hearted:

It’s a frightening experience, especially the first time. Often enough the prison officers consider visitors – especially those not part of a group ministry – as simply the criminals who haven’t been caught yet. To be despised in a cold, official manner is unpleasant to the mind – especially when reinforced by the clang of steel gates between you and freedom.

The experience has its moral effect as well. One woman, after her first experience visiting a friend in prison, said that she just wanted to go back to the motel, burn all her clothes and take a shower with a scrub brush and lye soap.


It’s hard to remember, sometimes, that the prisoners are human beings too. Whatever your crime, it is a climate of fear – you are surrounded by some of the worst of humanity. One Christian received a panic phone call from his friend in prison: “I’m in a cell block with 14 guys – and you know two of them.” “Who?” “Sirhan B. Sirhan (Robert Kennedy’s murderer) – and Charles Manson.”

Yet in this world Christianity flourishes. Why? Perhaps it is simply that they have time to sit and think – and repent.


What is this to us? Simply this: these men and women, too, are those for whom Christ died. When you take the Lord’s Supper you proclaim his death – even on behalf of such as these. We must remember that all of us are sinners. Christ never made a distinction between good sinners and bad; he died for all. His instructions for salvation start with, “whosoever will.”

As you partake, consider the extent of his sacrifice. Not just for the righteous, not just for the worthy, not just for the nice guys – Christ died for “whosoever will.” Even the least of these may have pardon. Remember how great his sacrifice, how great his love.

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