Jesus Christ is risen today!
…and tomorrow…and tomorrow…and every day! Alleluia!
Resurrection means rebirth, a coming back to life after death, and it’s not just confined to Easter Sunday as I witnessed for myself 10 days ago in Stocken Prison.
On Monday 12th March a team of 25 of us went into Stocken Prison to lead a Christian Mission called Kairos. Kairos means ‘the right time’ and for many, being in prison is the right time to hear the voice of God calling. 21 inmates had either volunteered or been selected by the prison Chaplain to join the 5 day mission. They came into the chapel on that first day apprehensive, fearful, defensive, sceptical – not sure what to expect from us or from the experience ahead of them. Kairos is an intensive 5 day programme made up of deeply personal and very powerful testimonies given by team members, two of whom have been in prison themselves; meditations to help the men reflect on past experiences; discussions in small groups of inmates and team members. As the week progresses the men’s defences begin to break down, confidences are shared and healing begins to take place. On the Thursday there is a service of forgiveness when the inmates are given the opportunity to forgive those who have hurt them and to receive forgiveness themselves for those they have hurt. To see men hardened by years of rejection and isolation, break down in tears of remorse and release is to see resurrection, and this all happens through the love of Jesus. The Kairos team go into the prison as the hands, feet and heart of Jesus Christ, not in our own strength but in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Few of those men have ever experienced unconditional love, and when they understand that Jesus died for each one of them, as sinful and as damaged as each one of them is, they are completely changed. Witnessing their rebirth was like witnessing the miracles of the New Testament. It was like a light had been switched on in their souls – the light of Christ. Jesus met with each one of them in all their mess and their hurt and their pain and, as one of them said to me as he left for his cell on the Friday afternoon, “I will never be the same again.”
It’s easy to sing the same joyous Easter hymns and read the familiar Easter readings without actually really understanding the full meaning of Resurrection. Jesus lives today, in the rebirth of lives transformed by his love and grace: in the lives of 21 men in Stocken Prison, and in the lives of every other man or woman who comes to know the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is risen today. Alleluia!
A very happy and blessed Easter to you all.
Many thanks to all those of you who baked cookies, prayed and hosted team members. You have all contributed to the transformation of those men, who cannot believe that people on the outside care about them and who send their profound gratitude to you all.