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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rain at My Prison's Window - Pastor Cindy's Devotional - July 11, 2017

Good morning friends, 

I am writing this early Tuesday morning.  I woke up to an early morning thunderstorm.  It was a good way to wake up.  I love the roll of thunder and the crack of lightning.  I could hear the rain on the roof and listen to the water fall down the downspout at the corner of the house.   

An early morning rain like this reminds me that the earth renews itself.  The roll of thunder reminds me that there are powers greater than all of us.  Rain in the early morning feels fresh.  An early morning greeting from God. 

I will be preaching at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville on Thursday evening and I wondered if the women who live in the prison could hear the rain as they woke up this morning.  I have visited there a number of times, but I have only been in their worship space.  I don’t know what their cells look like.  Do they have windows?  Can they hear rain on the roof, or is the roof too industrial-thick to allow the people inside to hear the rain? 

Going to the prison always jars my soul. 

There are more than 600 women living in the prison, a good size town by Iowa standards.  They come from all walks of life.  They are all ages, sometimes surprisingly young, looking more like high school cheerleaders than criminals.  A very few are lifers; most will at some point be released and they will return to their children, their families, and their communities. 

The vast majority have been abused in all the forms abuse takes: verbal, physical, sexual.  The majority struggle with some form of mental illness.  Many fight addictions.  For many of the women, the prison is the safest and healthiest place they have ever lived. 

The Iowa Court System has found them guilty of a crime severe enough to send them to prison. 

I inevitably find myself wondering how did these women get here?  What were their lives like?  Many did not grow up in a family like I had, parents present, sober, and caring every day, the constant security of food, clothing, and shelter.  But some did.  Some came from homes similar to mine.  My logical head always wants to separate me from the women somehow.  My judgmental heart wants to feel superior.  I could never, would never end up in prison.  Surely not me. 

But.

I remember a boy I dated, who my father hated, who was trouble and troubled.  What if I had continued to date him? 

I remember parties in college.  What if a particular night had turned out differently?  What if I had faced abuse, in all its forms, how would I have coped? 

What if the road that is my life had taken a different turn?

On Thursday night at the prison, I am going to preach about the Greatest Commandment.  Jesus said the most important thing we can do is love God.  I preached this same message last Sunday in my church in a western suburb.  After service, we all went out to the parking lot and drove away to our comfortable homes.  I hope, and I pray that what I say about loving God is as true at the prison as it seemed in the western suburbs.   

I hope the women heard the rain this morning.  The renewing rain.  The roll of thunder, a power greater than us.  A fresh greeting from God. 

I pray that I see the face of Christ in the women.  And in some small way, they see the face of Christ in me. 

Blessings to you this week.  Please think of us all on Thursday evening. 

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
Visit us at www.wdmumc.org or like us on Facebook.  We worship at 8:30 and 11 and we would love to worship with you. 

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church:

Pastor Cindy’s sermon series, Our Grand Adventure, continues.  This week we will be talking about loving our neighbors.  Hi, neighbor!

Preparations are underway for Vacation Bible School!  Vacation Bible School begins Sunday evening at 6 pm.  Check out our website for details and round up the neighborhood kids for a week of fun! 

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