(posted by kevin maddock)
Recently on the morning of Palm Sunday a group of Christian men went into a prison to play a game of cricket with the inmates. I had the privilege of being part of the group.
We got through all the formalities and the security checks and at last arrived at the oval for the game.
The prisoners were happy in anticipation, looking forward to a time of sport and good competition. We got the game planned out, organised the umpires, scorers etc, tossed the coin and the game got underway. It was 25 overs each and if a batter got to 30 runs he would retire.
It was a really good day, played in a good spirit of sportsmanship and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
When it came time for the prisoners to bat, several of the prisoners were dismissed without scoring many runs. One of the leaders among the prisoners said something that struck me as being very significant, he said, “You can tell who the sinners are”
What was he saying? You are different to us. We don’t measure up to you.
We are the failures, the “losers” the outcasts the rejects.
There was a perceived gap between those two groups of men on the cricket oval that Sunday morning.
I kept thinking about that mans comment and wondered how we as Christians can reach across that gap so that we as PF visitors can be friends and not different to those who we visit (and play sport with).
I was reminded of a story I read a long time ago where Saint Vincent De Paul was caring for the poor, he is recorded as saying to one of the sisters who worked with him, “We must love these people very much, so they will forgive us for having helped them”.
You see, if you reach down and help me, you are strong and I am weak, there is a gap between us, I am obligated to you.
It is only when I understand that you love me, that your help doesn’t cause me to loose some dignity, some of my identity as a human being.
May we love the prisoners we visit, may our friendship be a blessing to them as we show them grace, and maybe one day they will be brave enough to ask us about God’s grace.
The prisoners won the cricket match, but I think they fiddled the score.