Friday, 28 January 2011

South and North ~ Choices

The southern part consisted partly of a Sunday service and lunch shared with the people of Henlow and the Biggleswade Circuit. We had a great time celebrating the hundred year worshipping journey from Onion Barn to the current modern building ~ and on into the future!

The second part was the District Retreat at Pleshey. We reflected on light and darkness and choice ~ and God's voice in the midst of it all. We shared in conversation and silence and were led in prayer by members of the group. We considered God's word in Scripture, in poetry, in music and in pictures. And some of us reflected by using various art materials that were on offer.

It was good to be able to share in this way and to be reminded that God is present in silence and laughter, in deep conversation and in light-hearted fun. That all of us have insight to share, vision to offer, gifts for which all can be grateful, and courage for the journey ahead.

Thank you to all who made this such a rich time and from whose contributions I have continued to learn.

The northern stop was my visit to HMP Altcourse and the privilege of sharing in a SORI afternoon at the end of the Restorative Justice Week. It is impossible to do justice (excuse the intended pun!) to the impact of this work. The offenders involved and those who facilitated the course had worked incredibly hard to enable the offenders to choose to recognise their own responsibilities and to take this opportunity to say "Sorry". If you find it hard to believe that a week's course can change somebody's life contact the Reverend Martin Earl at the prison - or anyone else who is involved in Restorative Justice work and see it for yourself. All of us who attended this afternoon were deeply moved by all we heard and shared ~ and believe me, most of us were not the sort of people to be easily fooled by the usual sob-stories!

We saw the results of their work not only in the material on the walls of the Chapel, but in the lives of both prisoners and ex-prisoners. SORI makes it possible for prolific offenders to change and can provide the opportunity for victims of crime to find a better ending than the court case gave them. It makes sure that the wide ranging effects of crimes are taken seriously by offenders, often for the first time in their lives, and can result in real change for all. It was well worth the journey and I trust all Christians can find ways of supporting this work.

No comments: