dead man waiting… and i’m back at the prisons…

i spent yesterday with uniting church prison chaplains from around Victoria. they have a retreat every couple of months, and i joined them to talk about worship within a prison setting. This is part of an ongoing set of work that i began talking about here. It’s started to take on bigger dimensions, as these things are inclined to do.

i’m doing the rounds of prisons over the next couple of months, to get a more complete picture of the context and environment in which worship occurs. i suspect the women’s prison was an easy induction.

i was thinking last night about how my experience of how being part of worship in prison ‘sharpened’ the worship – it made the gospel more urgent. grace and hope had to be real, or else they had no meaning. to pray a prayer of praise took real faith. Bonhoeffer talked about cheap grace… i wonder if that’s less likely in a prison than in a normal sunday service. i’m also not sure it’s only grace that we sell cheaply in a normal sunday service…

i was looking at the book shelves of our host yesterday. she had a great collection that i wanted to bury myself in for a few weeks. One book was by jon sobrino, a latin american liberation theologian – he’d say that the gospel imperative is social and political upheaval in the name of liberation… that’s a dangerous gospel to preach in prison…