Prison and Jail

Liturgy for Reentry Ministries

“The Hard and Promising Work of Reentry”

Based on Luke 15



Ministry Matters, Sep. 15, 2019 

Gracious and loving God, 

we find it difficult at times 

to place our trust in you. 

Too often we look at the world, 

and see only violence, pain, destruction, 

and signs of hopelessness and despair. 

Too often we rely on our own strength, 

our own plans, our own devices, 

rather than trusting in your hand to hold us, 

your love to sustain us, 

and your wisdom to see us through. 

Forgive us, Holy One. 

Help us turn to you when we are lost, 

that we might find our way home. 

Help us navigate the treacherous waters of this world, 

that we might experience your abundant grace, 

mercy, and love. 

Help us put our trust in you, 

that the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus 

may shine in our lives for all to see. Amen. 

Words of Assurance, Luke 15:7 

Jesus said, “there will be more joy in heaven 

over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine 

righteous persons who need no repentance.” 

My friends, experience God’s forgiveness and joy— 

gifts that leads to new life! 


Ministry Matters, Sept. 15, 2019 

God of abundant grace, 

may your Holy Spirit be with us now 

as we worship you this day. 

Open our eyes to truly see one another, 

that we might discover your presence 

in the smile of a neighbor. 

Open our ears to the needs of the world, 

that we might hear your wisdom 

in the words spoken around us. 

And open our hearts to your grace and love, 

that we might find guidance 

and strength for the journey, 

for ourselves and for one another. Amen. 


By Paul Witmer

LEADER:  Friends, let us gather in the presence of God, whose love has the power to transform. 

PEOPLE:  We come with joy, to give and be given. 

LEADER: Let us be renewed by the power of God’s justice. 

PEOPLE:  We come with anticipation, hoping to find our way home. 

LEADER:  Let us be inspired by the grace of God’s love. 

PEOPLE:  We come with humbled hearts, ready to make amends.  

LEADER:  Let us be empowered by the faith in a Savior who restores us to justice. 

ALL:  We come, lifting our hearts in praise and thanksgiving.  Amen.  


“My Life Flows On” Chalice Hymnal #619 

“Softly and Tenderly” (Chalice Hymnal #340) 

“The Summons” (The Faith We Sing, #2130) 

 “Come as You Are” (Contemporary, Crowder) 


Love after Love by Derk Wolcott 

The time will come  

When, with elation 

You will greet yourself arriving 

At your own door, in your own mirror, 

And each will smile at the other’s welcome. 

And say, sit here. Eat. 

You will love again the stranger who was yourself. 

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 

To itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

All your life, whom you ignored 

For another, who knows you by heart. 

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

The photographs, the desperate notes, 

Peel your image from the mirror. 

Sit. Feast on your life  


Luke 15: 1-2; 11-32 (NRSV) 

15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 

The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother 

11 Then Jesus[b] said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with[c] the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[d] 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command, yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father[e] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” 


As we interpret the work of reentry with prison ministries, we’ll explore this very familiar biblical story of prodigal sons and daughters, especially focusing on the hard work of coming home.  In this great story, there are many theological concepts with very real, practical implications: Self-awareness, Repentance and Confession; Forgiveness; Reconciliation and the challenging work of restoring broken relationships.  We’ll explore all these elements, not just as textual bible study, but real-life practices of welcoming our returning prodigal sons and daughters.  Below are some themes to explore, based on Luke 15 and reentry experience: 

  • Where are the women?  (and others who get lost in our culture) 
  • This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them. (Good news for most of us!) 
  • “…and there he squandered his property on dissolute living” (using caution in how we “fill in the blank” of a person’s back story. 
  • “No one gave him anything” (The lies we tell ourselves)
  • “He came to himself.”  (the power of an “aha” moment; rock bottom) 
  • “And I will say to him, …” (the gift of rehearsing our reentry plan)
  • Party!  (the communal response to the returning citizen) 
  • Bigger brother bitter, Biggerbrother better (the invitation to be better; our part in mending brokenness) 
  • From death to life (the resurrection experience of Reentry)


From “Ministry Matters” September 15, 2019 

My friends, go into the world: 

knowing that it is God who loves us, 

Christ who strengthens us, 

and the Holy Spirit who empowers us for service. 

Go in peace and joy! Amen.