The photo today is something I took after Tropical Storm Imelda flooded our parsonage in 2019. Such events pull people together, and that’s part of what I’m writing about today.
I received a wonderful letter this week from a friend who has discovered he has a knack for prison ministry, for reaching the broken. He’s been broken himself, and had his share of troubles with addictions of various sorts. He said the Holy Spirit was moving among the inmates, and he was surprised that he felt more at home with the prisoners than he did when he was working in a local church. There are folks there who are broken, who are ready for another life than the one that got them there.
I have done some prison ministry, and I have been to a lot of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and I understand what he means. There is a freedom in being broken and being willing to be healed. The catch for most of us is that we are unwilling to admit we are broken. Folks who have reached the “end of their rope” are blessed, in that they no longer have to keep up the pretense.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Jesus, quoted in Matthew 5 in The Message as part of the Sermon on the Mount.
Most of us don’t admit we are lost, don’t admit we are broken until we are thoroughly exposed. Many of our sins are not so flagrant and public as alcohol or other types of drug abuse, or whatever it is that landed us in prison. We want to cling desperately to an image from Hell, and cover it up by pretending to be “nice.” Gossip is in the same group of sins as adultery, greed and others, and gossip is often a way of trying to feel better about ourselves by trashing someone else.
But with brokenness comes a chance at healing; in my last post I mentioned recognizing the wound. Robert, my friend who has done nursing care, wrote about the importance of checking hospital patients for sores, for wounds. When we recognize the wound we can begin the healing. What wounds do you think you might have?
I thought about the song, “Mercy of the Fallen” by Dar Williams. Dar is a tremendously thoughtful writer and activist, and some of her songs are among the most moving I know. This is the refrain of “Mercy of the Fallen”:
There’s the wind and the rain, and the mercy of the fallen
Who say they have no claim to know what’s right
There’s the weak and the strong
And the beds that have no answer
And that’s where I may rest my head tonight
In an interview she said she wrote this about the folks in the recovery communities.
Once you realize who you are, who you really are and the depths of greed you are capable of — all sin is greed, some say — you are in need of forgiveness, whether you realize it or not. And Jesus is right there, waiting for you, listening to hear when He calls your name. Those who have been there are ready to help; they can show you a way to get back up; they can show you the mercy of the fallen.