Forgiveness & The Innocent Spouse
& Children Project. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Rev. Jeff Grant & Lynn Springer
Christ Church Greenwich
Feb. 2, 2014
People in attendance have told us that this was one of the most surprising moments in church they have ever witnessed – as Jeff called Lynn up to the pulpit and apologized to her, and through her to his extended family and to the families of all men who have gone to prison and left their families behind.
Click image for the audio recording of our sermon.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[a]
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
And I said, “Who, me?”
And she explained to me that…I’ve told…
I’ve told my story so many times, and in all those times I’ve told my story…I call it My Fall and My Redemption Story. My wife pointed out to me, she said, “In all those times you’ve told that story, you’ve never once talked about hurting your family,” and I said to her, “How is that possible?” Is that actually possible?
There’s a kind of Schadenfreude – people want to see them kind of fail in this bizarre way – there are all these TV shows, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and The Bachelor or whatever they are, for people who are really doing well in the world, but there’s this kind of seed in the back that somehow people want to see them fail, and we’re keyed into that because we’re people who went through it.
Lynn winds up ministering to them and counseling them. We put together legal teams for them to try and get them their assets back if they’ve been seized or they’ve been taken by the government in kind of kind of a failure of due process when these women have… They’re entitled to property that was theirs but somehow got swept up into these government things…
Lynn, do you want to say anything about it?
They’re not getting by.
And, in my case, there was a lot of, a lot of shame.
I had never known anyone who had ever gone to prison. It was difficult for me to talk about it. My own family didn’t really want to hear about it and wasn’t interested in supporting me, and the only people that I did talk to about it advised me to leave Jeff. There was really no support for me. My daughter and I were really, really on our own. And that doesn’t help. So I have a great deal of compassion for the women that Jeff and I are helping now, who are in the same situation that I was in. So that’s all I really have to say about that right now.
And compassion and love are really the only way to deal with these things. That’s just my feeling about this.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved, it’s the power of God.”
First Congregational Church of Danbury, Sun., Mar. 16th
Please join us as Jeff and Lynn will be Guest Preaching and giving a seminar after the service relating to their work at the Innocent Spouse & Children Project. Danbury is the only city in Connecticut that hosts a Federal Prison. The Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury is a low-security United States federal prison for female inmates – a major controversy has arisen recently since a plan has been approved to move these female inmates to other locations far away from their families. First Congregational Church of Danbury, 164 Deer Hill Ave., Danbury, CT, Click image for details.
Some Comments from Linked In:
I love this…so very powerful! Having been the mother of two sons who went to prison, I learned that families of the incarcerated are the “other victims.” You feel so very helpless, judged and often are treated like you are committing a crime. Thank you very doing this!
By Lucy Smith, MEd
I think this ministry is absolutely awesome that Pastor Jeff and his wife, Lynn, are doing to help those innocent wives and children whose spouses are incarcerated. It is very true that very few think about the family of those in prison, but I believe they are left hurting with hardly anyone to come to their rescue; unless, they are fortunate to have family members who care. I’m sure that most of them are full of shame and pain for what their loved ones did to go to prison. It’s almost like losing a loved one in death, but the person is still very much alive. The family members of those incarcerated need to know that they are loved regardless to what happened. We who are Christians need to show that love by reaching out to them in any way we can to help out. I never really thought much about the family members before, because I’ve always done ministry to those on the inside of prison. I am so thankful for the type of ministry that Pastor Jeff and Lynn are talking about, and I pray for more to catch this vision and run with it.
By Gwen Campbell
I will be having a Town Hall Meeting in March. The agenda is the “Destroying the New Jim Crow” and Transitioning ex-offenders back into our communities effectively. I have prepared a survey to make sure I am presenting what the community is most interested in discussing. Please take time to complete the survey. I would also ask that you would pass it on to others. This is the link: http://lnkd.in/dUzi8Ka I look forward to hearing your opinions.
By Kimberly Brown
Gracious and merciful God, the problems facing our human family are very grave and we are no longer isolated from one another. We are confronted daily with our addiction to violence, our hatred and our greed. We are heartbroken. The media are relentless in their presentation and critique and we all long for some good news. It is so easy to forget that your Son, Jesus, is always the good news and that he has given us the remedy for our brokenness. “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” He spoke so clearly. We ask your Holy Spirit to remind us of this again and again. We ask you for the gift of hope in our lives and know that we need to turn to one another for the confidence and assurance that we will emerge from situations, that, in the short term seem hopeless. Banish fear and anxiety from our hearts.
Tonight we gather to affirm one another and to remove the barriers that seem to sour our relationships and keep us at a distance. Heal the short tempers, the crabbiness and the grudges we hold, against one another, against our political system, against our Church, against our financial institutions. We could go on and on. Prompt us to be beacons in the present darkness, and especially beacons to one another. We are all guilty of some selfishness, many of us have lived beyond our means and we become angry and irrational and embrace ideologies that protect our acquisitions. We need your help to stop contributing to the larger greed that tears at our world. We believe in the power of your grace to change our lives and we promise tonight to be once again open to that grace. Bless us with a peaceful spirit and a desire to be reconciled with one another.
Progressive Prison Project/
Innocent Spouse & Children Project
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Director
Christ Church Greenwich
254 East Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Connecticut, USA 06830
Lynn Springer, Advocate
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport
126 Washington Avenue, 1st Floor
Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA 06604
Jesus Saves Ministries
784 Connecticut Avenue
Bridgeport. CT, 06607
|Cathedral of Praise C.O.G.I.C. Int’l|
|45 Gregory Street|
|Bridgeport, CT 06604|
Have you ever truly and honestly apologized to members of your blood family or have they been forgotten in your story? Perhaps it's time to call them up to the pulpit for deeds done unto them both before and after your incarceration.
Thank you for your comment and the important questions you've raised. In the 1 1/2 years since this sermon/blog, I've had a lot of time to reflect on these topics. There are several members of my family who have asked me not to talk about them publicly, so out of respect for them and their wishes I try to not. I acknowledge that it leaves me telling an incomplete story – I remain unsure of how to handle this. As to honest and complete apologies, I have made apologies but I know that I've fallen short there as well – this has only added to the wreckage. My sadness and remorse about all this has been unbearable at times, even as I try to empathize for my family and their feelings. I have taken counsel with professionals, my supervising minister, my recovery sponsor, etc. trying to figure out how I can fix things. It has taken me years to understand and accept that I can't fix anything, and that the only thing I can do is continue to work on my spiritual development and turn the rest over to God. It is definitely a work in progress. I think and pray about, and talk privately about, these things almost every day. Thank you again. Jeff