Eight armored doors. That’s what stood between our incarcerated brothers and freedom…when we presented a Kairos Weekend to them at a supermax prison in 2012. Those eight doors, plus an ever-jangling assortment of handcuffs and leg-irons.
I thought about all this hardware when I spent some time meditating on the reading we hear from the Acts of the Apostles on Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter. As Luke tells the tale, Paul and Silas found themselves in a similar predicament.
…they threw [Paul and Silas] into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely. When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and secured their feet to a stake.
‘The innermost cell’: Yeah, I’ve been there, along with my Kairos teammates…wondering in my fearful heart how the Holy Spirt could possibly penetrate such mechanisms, among the sturdiest defenses humankind can muster. And: I wondered how a message of Christ’s love and forgiveness might sound to the five men we found there – literally shackled to the floor.
I heard a strange thing there, too, something quite similar to what Paul’s jailer heard in Philippi:
About midnight…Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened…
As we recounted in the memoir we prepared about Tamms #1, the first-ever Kairos Weekend offered at a supermax…our hymn-singing proved remarkably powerful:
On two different occasions, the door to the Chapel Wing slid open–in the middle of a talk–and a nurse walked in, to distribute medications to a prisoner. In this not-so-subtle way, we were reminded that we were still in the Warden’s House. But we were rewarded, too, when the nurse told us they had heard us singing – our joyful noise had traveled through the ductwork to the Medical Unit, several hundred yards away…
So: Just like the jailer in Philippi, we received a great blessing when we put aside our fears and carried the Good News into a supermax in 2012. We saw that, against all odds, Christ’s love mercy can breach even world-class defenses.
Even eight armored doors are no match…when the Holy Spirit desires to penetrate the innermost cells of our hearts. Here’s modern-day proof:
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.