(Cartoon courtesy of Jon Birch's "The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus".)
There are National Days and International Days and Special Weeks and Months and The Year of The Whatever all the time.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month do a good job, for example. I was pretty scathing when I learned that Friday was World Toilet Day until I read what it said on the website, when I had a change of heart. There are some thought-provoking statistics there.
Today is the start of Prisoners Week.
Prisoners' Week isn't really for prisoners. When you're in prison, every week is prisoners' week. Prisoners' Week is designed to remind people, especially in Churchworld, of prisons and prisoners who are otherwise out-of-sight-and-out-of-mind. The Bible tells Christians that they must remember those in prison as if they were in prison themselves but, with the best will in the world, they are difficult to remember.
Society sends them to prison to get them out of the road and this is so successful that it is easy to forget about prisoners, although I always say to church groups that when they see the Reliance Van (our company car!) that can serve as a reminder to us to pray. Inside those vans will probably be prisoners - each in one of the "dog boxes" which are truly horrible.
The purpose of this post (you thought I'd never get there, eh?) is to encourage you to pray for prisoners this week. Sometimes that idea irks people and they say, understandably, "But what about the victims, AnneDroid?" What about them? It's not an either/or. It's not an either/or in the sense that we can and should pray for both prisoners AND victims. We don't have to choose! But also, it's not an either/or in the sense that sorting out who is a prisoner and who is a victim isn't always as simplistic as you might think. I would guess that most prisoners are also victims in some way or another - often back in childhood through abuse or neglect, but also in adulthood too.
If you would like to pray for prisoners, you can pray for them any time :)
But if you'd like to make a special effort to pray for prisoners in Prisoners' Week that would be totally fab.
Here is the Prisoners' Week prayer from the website:
Lord, you offer freedom to all people.
We pray for those who are captives in prison
and those who are affected by or involved in their imprisonment.
Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist.
Support with your love: prisoners, their families and friends,
prison staff and all who care.
Heal those who have been wounded by the activities of others,
especially the victims of crime.
Help us to forgive one another, to act justly, to love mercy,
and walk humbly together with Christ
in his strength and in his spirit now and every day.
(Of course you can use your own words instead if you like...).