Sisters and brothers in Christ,
This weekend, we kick off our fall stewardship emphasis with Pastor Dirk Stadtlander bringing us the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pastor Dirk is the pastor for the synod ministry at the Anamosa State Prison. If you listen to our Gospel from John 8:31-36 (the appointed reading for Reformation Sunday), you will hear the words “If the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed.” Those last words are the name of the prison ministry our congregation helps support: FreeIndeed.
As we look at Reformation Sunday, it is wholly right and proper that we look to prison ministry as a metaphor for our own lives. We confess in one of our confessions that we are “captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.” The men at Anamosa State Prison (https://seiasynod.org/ministries/prisonministry/) and other men and women incarcerated at prisons scattered throughout Iowa are captive to sins as well as the state and cannot free themselves. We, like the inmates, are trying to reform our lives that we may walk in God’s kingdom and walk rightly with our brothers and sisters in society.
Thanks be to God that Jesus came to set us free from the bonds of death. Thanks be to God that our Church and congregations in other denominations believe in the importance of bringing God’s healing grace to those in prison. As Isaiah said, “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness … to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:6-7). Pastor Dirk helps us do just that by proclaiming the Good News of reformation in what would be a dark place spiritually for many.
As you contemplate how God is reforming your lives into faithful service in his creation, pray that God will continue to stir the hearts and minds of men and women incarcerated and imprisoned as they reform their lives to rejoin us in society.