Saturday, September 01, 2018

From Church of the Table Newsletter

Preaching in jail is just so much fun.

Church at Cook County Jail happens in a few different places in the building, depending on how many officers are available. If they are short staffed we have church in between a row of bunks and a wall, very similar to the banner above. It's cramped and it smells like a locker room. If they have an officer to spare then we get to go into the rec room. That is a gift. The rec room is spacious and quiet and more guys can fit in there. Also sometimes it smells like clean laundry. #blessed

Last week 34 guys came to church. That's 10% of dorm 2. They sang so, so poorly. It was cacophonous. I told them that Jesus saves everyone, but no one can save their singing abilities, not even God incarnate. They laughed, thankfully.

We talked about hate, how you can be living freely in society but be in a prison of your own hate, or how you can be incarcerated but be so completely free with love. Someone can be driving down the road, a free person, but be so filled with rage at, say, your boss, that you are no longer free. And someone can be living in Cook County Jail, in as locked down of a facility as there is, but have so much love for self, for God, and for their brothers and your sisters, that he or she is more free than ever before.

They got it and they were into it. They think about freedom all the time. Can't blame them. I should think about it more, too.

After jail church about 20 of the guys came up to me to say thanks or chat a bit, and we went through the motions of those awkward handshake/clasp/pull in/one arm hug/fist bump/down-low-too-slow thing. I am so awful at all of it. I look like a toddler who has yet to gain control of his limbs. They were gracious, and they laughed as they walked away from me.

I prefer full hugs. They are easiest.

Church happens in a lot of places. It's been my experience that it really thrives in the places where it shouldn't. But that's just me. Your mileage may vary.

May you, friend, know freedom from hate this month. May you be as free as some of those incarcerated men who are doing their best to live in love and peace.

Joshua Longbrake
Pastor, Church of the Table