Prisonist.org: Edited by Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Executive Director of Family ReEntry, serving the CT Criminal Justice Community & Co-Founder of Progressive Prison Ministries, the First Ministry in the U.S. Created to Support Individuals, Families & Organizations with White-Collar and Other Nonviolent Incarceration Issues.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Songs From The Inside, Volume One: Soothed

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A song about God, a woman, compulsions or perhaps my anima


soothed





everything's the same

but everything has changed

 i see you standing there

i'm calling out your name



but the words won't come

 no the words won't come

 no the words won't come



soothed by the sound of your voice

soothed by the sound of your name

obsessed i made the wrong choice

i used your sweet name in vain



everything has changed

but everything's the same

you see me sitting here

you're calling out my name



but the words won't come

no the words won't come

no the words won't come



soothed by the sound of your voice

soothed by the sound of your name

possessed i make the wrong choice

i use your good name in vain



and as the days turn into years

your face softens in the glow

of long forgotten tears

over things you will never know



soothed by the sound of your voice

soothed by the sound of your name

obsessed i made the wrong choice

my unfinished symphony of pain

jeff grant
2007

Excerpt from The Art of Surviving Prison  Copyright 2013, all rights reserved Jeff Grant, Progressive Prison Project jgrant3074@icloud.com 15 E. Putnam Ave. #370
Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
(203) 339-5887 


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Songs From The Inside, Volume One: I Call Again

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A song about God, a woman, compulsions or perhaps my anima

i call again
 


i try to get close, you push me away
i can't say i blame you but i want you to stay
that's all there is to it


i wander around, living day by day
with unanswered questions and endless delays
why can't we get through it?


i call up to see you, you always say yes
but when's the next time its anybody's guess
how much longer can i do it?


yet, 
i call again, i always call again
i do
i call again, i always call again
even though we both know
its the wrong thing
to do


we go to the mall, i wash your clothes
when you have a cold i blow your nose
its a crying shame


you spend your life, searching for the perfect match
and here i sit waiting for your scraps
its a sad sad game


the truth of it all, is that you can't see
no matter what i do this is me, this is me
it remains the same


yet,
i call again, i always call again
i do
i call again, i always call again
even though we both know
its the wrong thing
to do

 
i call again, i always call again
i do
i call again, i always call again
even though we both know
its the wrong thing
to do





jeff grant 
2007





Excerpt from The Art of Surviving Prison 
Copyright 2013, all rights reserved
Jeff Grant, Progressive Prison Project
jgrant3074@icloud.com
15 E. Putnam Ave. #370
Greenwich, Connecticut 06830

(203) 339-5887

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mourning My Father Part Two: The French Chairs




Progressive Prison Project
Greenwich, Connecticut

This originally appeared as one of my Practically Religion columns in Greenwich, Connecticut.


Mourning My Father Part Two: The French Chairs
by Jeff Grant

I prayed this morning.  I got up early but instead of my usual early morning ritual of pot o’ coffee and a couple of hours of writing, I went to church.  The chapel at the Second Congregational Church here in Greenwich is glorious, especially in the wee hours as daybreak first streams in.  It reminds me that it is a holy place.  Since my father died this past December, I feel lost.  It is a strange and uncomfortable sensation, especially since my father and I were not especially close.  The legacy he left is only first beginning to emerge.  This morning I prayed for guidance and for healing; healing for me and for my family.  I received a reply.
_________________________

About twenty years ago, my ex and I were in Paris shopping in the flea market at Clignancourt when we happened upon the most beautiful chairs, in such interesting shapes and sizes.   They were bent wood, art deco, and definitely not for everybody.  They had been designed for a hotel in Barbados that had gone out of business.  The dealer in Paris bought up the entire inventory of the hotel and shipped it back to be sold off piece by piece.  My ex spotted one of her interior designer heroes, Rose Tarlow, and her entourage making a beeline for the chairs.  Rose knew exactly what she wanted and ordered four of the chairs on the spot.  I guess that was the tipping point for us because as soon as Rose completed her transaction, we bought two of the French Chairs and had them shipped to us back in the States.

The French Chairs were beautiful but were very uncomfortable, and we really never knew what to do with them.  In truth, they were more like objets d’ art, or maybe huge doorstops, that we lugged around from home to home.  When my ex and I split up, I guess it wasn’t much of a surprise that I got the French Chairs; after all in our baseball-card game of need it/got it… they came in close to last.  Yet, even after I remarried and Lynn and I made a home here in Greenwich, the French Chairs sat majestically in our living room: a tribute to days and dreams gone by (and probably our inability to see the madness of dedicating thirty percent of our living space to chairs that we couldn’t possibly sit in).  Nonetheless, they were a part of the family.

My daughter and her husband are presently selling their house in Greenwich, and are making their way up to the hinterlands of Fairfield.  I called my daughter and told her that our time as custodians of the French Chairs was thus drawing to a close.   Upon hearing about the availability of her beloved French Chairs, she waxed poetic and drove right over to pick them up.  After all, to her these were way more than chairs; they contained the memories of her childhood and were markers of those nostalgic times (even if those times had to be spent on the floor in front of the chairs and not on the chairs themselves). 

After the French Chairs had been safely passed on to the next generation, Lynn and I wasted no time in filling the void with a pair of Crate & Barrel upholstered chairs that we bought used at Consign It on Mason Street.  It was nice to be able to finally use that side of our living room; we found out that we actually have a sliver-view of the Sound.  
________________________________

Today I am emailing a copy of this column to my entire family along an invitation to join me for dinner at my favorite restaurant on Thursday evening at 6pm.  There are only two things on the agenda (although I admit these things usually take on a life of their own).  The first is to pay tribute to my father, Stanley Grant.  The second is to celebrate our family, in whatever shape and size, no matter how beautiful or uncomfortable, despite how much space we take up, no matter where we reside, or how much it makes us think about our yesterdays or our tomorrows.   To sit and get to know each other as we are.  To mend fences, make amends, and cherish the little time we have left together on this planet.  To tell stories, laugh, shout, sing and listen to our hearts.
I miss my Dad and I wish he could be at dinner to join us.  I waited too long to invite him.  I won’t make the same mistake again.



Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
Progressive Prison Project
Assoc. Minister / Director of Prison Ministries  
The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport

126 Washington Avenue

Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604 


203.339.5887

Mourning My Father, Warts and All (Part One)



Progressive Prison Project
Greenwich, Connecticut


This is an excerpt from my book, The Art of Surviving Prison, awaiting publication. It originally appeared as one of my Practically Religion columns in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Mourning My father, Warts And All (Part One)

By Jeff Grant

My Dad grew up in Brooklyn at a time when it seemed everybody was from Brooklyn.  He was tall, smart, good looking - he joined the Navy and then went to Pace University.  He was the captain of the tennis team, and went on to enroll at the Columbia University Business School.  His own family business beckoned before he could complete school, a successful handbag company, and as the heir apparent Dad was to take it to unprecedented heights.  He met my Mom, a beautiful Brooklyn girl seven years younger, and they married at the Savoy Plaza Hotel in New York City, where the General Motors Building now stands across from Central Park.  Shortly after their marriage, the handbag business folded and my parents decided to move to Boston to put some distance between them and Dad’s family.

In the 1950’s, Boston was not a city known for being overly hospitable to Jews, so my Dad sent out two groups of resumes: one group with his family name, Goldberg, and the other with a name he had gotten out of the phonebook, Grant.  The story goes that he received five times the amount of replies under the name Grant than Goldberg, accepted a job, and had his and my mother’s name changed to Grant.  I was born in Boston less than two years later; my brother and sister were born in the Boston suburbs in obligatory two-year intervals. But Boston proved no Promised Land and in 1961 the family moved to Merrick, Long Island looking for a fresh start.

Merrick was a culture of second and third generation Jews escaping Brooklyn, all moved en masse to their version the good life.  Somehow, this entire generation collectively decided to become some sort of holocaust deniers. The war and the holocaust were never mentioned to any of us even though the war had ended less than ten years before many of we baby boomers were born.  We all grew up without any real sense of history or family.  South Merrick, where we lived, was a brand new town on the South Shore of Long Island, built on dirt and garbage dredged from the bottom of the East Bay.  Merrick was pretty much like every other town that we would pass on those rare occasions that my Dad would take me into the city with him.  Or later when I would go with my friends to a Mets game.  We would hop on the Long Island Rail Road, the “largest commuter railroad in the country;” it was a sea of dads each morning going off to their brave new worlds in New York City.  Or, perhaps, like mine, escaping their families. 

Dad had taken out a V.A. loan in 1961 and we moved into our house in South Merrick.  Ours was the only house on our street.  The street would not be paved for a year or two, and the other houses were being built all around ours, like dinosaurs rising up out of the dunes.  The roar of trucks and barges dredging was everywhere. Every kid in the neighborhood who moved into the neighborhood was about the same age, and had a brother or sister exactly two years older or younger. It was a kids’ paradise.  The Dads took off early in the morning, and the Moms did whatever Moms did. We really didn’t know, because none of us ever saw our parents. It was a town completely devoid of history and rules; we had to make them up as we went along.

Like his father before him, my Dad had a business failure in his early forties that was a turning point and changed the fabric of our family.  It proved to be a piece of prophecy and prescience that would haunt me for the rest of my life.  My Dad had a business in Manhattan that had one huge claim to fame: it was the world’s first marketing agency.  Back in the early sixties, when his eventual partner Sam and he both worked at Loft’s Candy Corp. in Long Island City, nobody even used the word “marketing.”  But Sam and my Dad did the marketing for Loft’s, and built it into a powerhouse of early franchising.  They left together with Loft’s as their first client, and then built a marketing agency that specialized in franchising.  As a kid, I remember going to store openings for all sorts of companies whose jingles were on television or the radio; and, of course, we always had free stuff from them all over the house.  But my Dad’s fame came from the fact that he was the marketing guy for Carvel Ice Cream.  Our freezer was always stuffed with Brown Bonnets, Flying Saucers and Lollapaloozas.  

Dad’s office on East 55th Street in Manhattan was set up with a glass top desk, wrap around sofa, and Barcelona chairs - for Dad, image was everything.  On one of the few days that Dad took me into his office, I was sitting on the sofa when Tom Carvel called in.  Tom Carvel was a very famous guy in New York back in the 60’ and 70’s. He was a cultural icon, as he appeared daily in hundreds of Carvel Ice Cream ads on television.  He had a very distinctive low raspy voice.  I’m certain that my Dad meant to impress me, and asked me to pick up the phone extension next to the sofa at the same time he picked up his phone on the desk.

“Stan, it’s Tom.  How the hell are ya?”
“Great Tom.  What’s doing?”  Dad was proud, beaming.
“Hey, why don’t you hop in your car and drive up to Yonkers [Carvel’s headquarters], I’ll get us some hookers.’’
Dad’s face looked ashen, as he waived his arms for me to put down the phone. 

The shit was all pretty much hitting the fan anyway.   My father’s huffing and puffing was intolerable to my Mom, to his partner Sam, and to almost everyone around him.  It wasn’t that he was arrogant; he was just full of a certain type of self-deception meets impunity meets righteous indignation, in which he thought that he could do things better than other people, but never quite delivered on his own promises.  With business doing well, Dad marched into his partner Sam’s office and announced that he needed a better split of the profits since he was responsible for most of the sales.  Sam calmly told him that a business needs a front room guy and a backroom guy, and that without both of them it would be closed within a year. Unimpressed, Dad pushed the issue. Sam left and, sure enough, the business collapsed.   Dad soon started having health problems, perhaps coincident to when he found out that my Mom had been having an affair with his biggest client. 

The last memory I have of my Dad in the Merrick house was him banging on the front door to be let in one night.  My bedroom window was in front of the house, and as I stuck my head out the window to see what was going on, my Mom came up behind me and pulled me back in.   She told me that my Dad didn’t live there anymore.   There’s more to the story of how I became the adult of the family, and how this paradigm defines the eldest child’s life in these situations.  I have never reconciled these issues with my brother or sister, both of whom were probably affected in ways I will never fully realize.  Nonetheless, when my opportunity came to get out of Merrick, I jumped at the chance and never looked back.

Excerpted from Jeff Grant’s book, The Art of Surviving Prison, awaiting publication

For Information Please Contact:

Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
Progressive Prison Project
Assoc. Minister / Director of Prison Ministries The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport

126 Washington Avenue

Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604 


203.339.5887

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The New Prison Ministry at The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport


The New Prison Ministry at
The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport  
126 Washington Avenue 
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604 


1.              We ask for your assistance.  Important new Prison Ministry initiatives are under way and are being planned at The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport  - all open to the entire Greater Bridgeport community, and reentry and recovery communities.  This is just a start - we request assistance in considering and shaping even better concepts and programs.

 

2.              Central Location, Near Downtown. 126 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604 in The Hollow, on the corner of Washington and West Avenues.  Two blocks from Downtown, close to Metro North, one block from Park and Fairfield Avenues.



3.              The Center for Spirituality and Wellness.  The Center for Spirituality and Wellness at The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport has been founded to provide a welcome and hospitable interfaith, ecumenical, multi-cultural and community-based permanent home where the entire community, including and especially the reentry and recovery communities, can come to seek and find care, comfort and health regardless of religious affiliation (or non-affiliation).  We seek affiliations with alternative forms of religion, spirituality, art, wellness, counseling, spiritualities, artists, yoga, meditation groups, seminars, lectures, counseling, therapies, and the like.



4.              Congregational Hospitality.  We recognize that a plan to welcome and offer a home to the reentry and recovery communities might be difficult to imagine in some churches.  Not in ours!  This plan has fully approved by both the Senior Pastor and the Congregation of The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport.  Expect open arms and a kind word for all in need! 



5.              Sunday Worship.  Sunday worship services at 10 am in English and French, new gospel music program twice a month to start in May. The Sunday service is often dedicated to issues relating to prisoner reentry and recovery.  The text of a sermon about Seeing Doubting Thomas as an Ex-offender in Reentry Difficulties and Solutions can be found online at: http://progressiveprisonproject.blogspot.com/2013/04/unseen-4713-sermon-seeing-doubting.html



6.              Partnering with Reentry/ Recovery Agencies. One huge benefit of our new Prison Ministry and the CSW is the opportunity to have formal and informal relationships with reentry and recovery agencies and faith-based organizations - we can provide spirituality and religious services that will assist in lowering recidivism rates, and provide programming to help lower operational costs.



A.             High Noon.  Starting in May, we will sponsor a time of spiritual prayer, meditation, reflection and 12-step meetings called High Noon.  Noon, Mon – Thurs, specific schedule to follow.  We invite all reentry and recovery community clients (and staff) to participate.



B.              Bridgeport Pardons Assistance Project.  We are in the process of opening the first regularly staffed drop-in pardons assistance office to cover all of Fairfield County (www.bpapct.org).  We have been trained at the State of Connecticut Board of Pardons & Paroles.  We will have fully trained volunteer and paid staff with experience in pardons assistance.  Our goal is to work with all current local pardons assistance initiatives to help make a better experience for the users.  Any thoughts or input would be appreciated.



C.              Bridgeport ATR III Faith-Based Center.  We have partnered with Pivot Ministries of Bridgeport to submit to a RFP proposal to open a Faith-Based ATR III location at the First Baptist Church of Bridgeport.  There has been no Faith-Based ATR in Bridgeport Region 1 for quite some time; all coverage in this region has been referred to New Haven or Middletown. We are very grateful to Pivot Ministries and view this as a tremendous opportunity for the reentry and recovery communities.  We appreciate your thoughts on this, as well – and referrals if the proposal is accepted.



7.              The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport Award.   The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport has been selected to receive the 2013 Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport Faith and Community Award.  The award will be bestowed at the downtown Cabaret Theater on April 26th at 6 pm.  Tickets are available on the CCGB website.



8.              Other Exciting News.  Watch for additional events being planned and exciting news happening at the First Baptist Church of Bridgeport and The Center for Spirituality and Wellness.



For Information Please Contact:



Jeff Grant, JD, M Div


Assoc. Minister / Director of Prison Ministries
The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport

126 Washington Avenue

Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604  


203.339.5887

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Unseen" - Sermon: Seeing Doubting Thomas as One of the Unseen

Progressive Prison Project 
Greenwich, Connecticut 


Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
Director, Progressive Prison Project

Assoc. Minister/
Director of Prison Ministries
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport
126 Washington Avenue, 1st Fl.
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604

(203) 339-5887
jgrant3074@icloud.com
jg3074@columbia.edu


The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport
Sermon

"Unseen" 

Seeing Doubting Thomas as One of the Unseen 


“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

It was my daughter’s eighteen birthday.
Now you all know that an eighteenth birthday is a very big deal in the life of a young woman. And in the life of a family. This was a day she’d been waiting for her entire life – a big day she talked about endlessly for years, and years. She wanted a party, a big party, with all her friends and family to be there – with presents. Lots and lots of presents.
I woke up on the morning of my daughter’s eighteenth birthday and I wanted to run into her bedroom and give her a big hug and a kiss. I wanted to celebrate with her this wonderful, magical day in her life. But in our family, this was not to happen. Instead, I woke up, walked down the hall and found that there were already five men waiting to make calls on the telephones. I was in prison
1

“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

– in the first month of my prison bid at the Allenwood Low Security Federal Correctional Institution in White Deer, Pennsylvania – and I would miss my daughter’s eighteenth birthday party.
As I would miss so many other family events during the time that I was incarcerated for a "white collar" crime. 
It took me over an hour to get a phone – I prayed as I dialed that I could get through and that she would pick up the phone. When she picked it up, I screamed into the phone “Happy Birthday Honey,” - and she said, “Thanks Dad, I love you.” I said, “I love you too....and I’m sorry I can’t be with you today.” She told me, “It’s okay Dad. It’s Okay.”
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“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

She told me that it was Okay, but we both knew that it wasn’t Okay.
I think I know a little bit about how Thomas might have felt that day when he found out that he has missed a huge event in his own family – his own community. Where was Thomas? This Gospel does not tell us – and as the story does not appear in any of the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke – we will never know where Thomas was when Christ first reappeared to the other Ten Apostles.
But I don’t think it is nearly as important to postulate where Thomas was as to consider Why John wrote his Gospel this way. That is, why did John have one Apostle who was different than the rest when the risen Christ appeared from the dead? Could it have been that John wanted us to identify with this man – who
3

“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

was different from the others and who had missed the greatest and most anticipated event in the life of his community – and behaved in a decidedly human way. Perhaps in a jealous way, hurt way, confused way, fearful way. In a doubtful way.
So imagine the conversation - Thomas comes back from wherever he was, and the first thing that happens is that the other Ten Apostles rush over to him and tell him – “Thomas, you won’t believe what happened while you were away? Christ the Lord was here!”
Does Thomas gush over the news? Does he say, “Christ was here? That’s Fantastic!” No. Instead Thomas retreats into himself – into his own head. He can’t See or hear what the other Apostles are saying. He can’t be present for them or their Good News.
Instead, he talks about his own doubts and fears – and goes back
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“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

into his own place of isolation. He says, “Unless I See the mark...Unless I put my hands in his side, I will not believe.” He has been away - has been Unseen and that’s all he knows.
How many of you Dads have come home after working a long, hard day at work – sweaty from a bus ride, a train ride or a long car ride and feel bombarded at the front door by your kids who want to tell you about their day? How many of you Moms have been shuttling around your kids in the back seat of the car – and just wished and prayed that they would just stop asking question after question until it put you over the top.
Now just imagine what it is like for a man or a woman after a five or ten year separation from their family because they are in prison, or for a drug addict or alcoholic, or for people so poor that they have to come to this country illegally to send money to their
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“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

kids back home. What is it like when they come home? What do they say to their kids – kids they hardly know – kids they’ve barely Seen – kids whose birthday parties they have missed?
So, who’s had it worse? The people away – the people in prison – or the families left back home? I’m not sure I know. I can tell you that in Thomas’s case he didn’t ask about his family when he got back – he only talked about his fears, his doubts. I get it, I understand. Incarcerated men and women go through huge trauma with little support and guidance. Who teaches them the life skills to be understanding, empathetic and compassionate? Even towards their own families. They have spent years – sometimes decades – being away. Being invisible. Being Unseen.
What happens to Thomas? Despite his doubt, despite his inability to See what the others have Seen – he is given a second chance.
6

“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

Christ appears a second time, and this time Christ offers him the opportunity to allay all of his doubts and fears. But it comes with a moral question, and a blessing to last the ages: Christ says “Have you believed because you have Seen me? Blessed are those who have not Seen me and yet have come to believe.”
In case you missed it in this Gospel story – Christ offered Thomas a second chance. Thomas, someone who had been Unseen and did not See Christ as he first rose – was offered a second chance to See. Isn’t hope and inspiration for a second chance what everybody is looking for in life? – Especially people on the margins. People who have made mistakes? Or maybe People who just come home too exhausted to pay attention to their children on any particular day?
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“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

This Gospel story tells that a second chance to See things differently is available to anybody and everybody.
Our theme of the Unseen is prevalent throughout literature. In John Irving’s novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, two schoolboys, John & Owen are talking in the schoolyard about the meaning of belief. As twilight falls, Owen asks John if he has any doubt that a grey granite statue of Mary Magdalene is there before his eyes. Of course John says he has no doubt. As it becomes pitch black and neither can See the statue, Owen asks John again if he has any doubt that the statue is there – of course John again has no doubt. Owen turns to John and tells him “Now you know how I feel about God – I can’t See him but I absolutely know he is there.”
8

“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

In the book, "Tattoos on the Heart," by Gregory Boyle, he writes about how the issue of being Unseen is especially true for people on the margins. He writes, "Our locating ourselves with those who have been endlessly excluded becomes an act of Visible protest.... Only when we can See a community where the outcast is valued and appreciated will we abandon the values that seek to exclude."
The need for us to See our outcasts, and their suffering, was a point made by my friend Elizabeth Bobrick - a Visiting Professor at Wesleyan University who also teaches inmates in Connecticut State Prisons. Elizabeth emailed me that, “It's remarkable that only a wound proves to Thomas that Jesus is who he says he is. We tend to want only proofs of strength to erase our doubts. Jesus offers a proof of his wounds instead.”
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“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

Jesus reveals himself to be broken and vulnerable – and it is within this brokenness that Thomas can fully See, relate to Him and accept his second chance. Thomas's acceptance of his brokenness is the key to his second chance.
As the poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen's put it in one of his most famous song lyrics:
--There's a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in.
There is a crack in everything. Sometimes we See the light, and sometimes we can’t yet See it and we have to rely on faith – or on others. Even Mother Theresa went for years without Seeing or experiencing the presence of God - but she still kept on praying and doing good works. Mother Theresa called it "the dark night of the soul."
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“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

So what is our imperative – our Calling – both as Christians and as Members a Community here at the First Baptist Church of Bridgeport? In what ways can we help the Unseen to be Seen – and to See the presence of God and Christ in their lives more clearly? To accept other people’s brokenness as we learn in new ways to accept our own? And in so doing help others to obtain their second chance in life?
Just last month this Congregation voted on a new Mission and Plan to fully invite people on the margins - the sick, the poor, ex- offenders and their families, and recovering drug addicts and alcoholics – to become Members of this church community.
We decided that we would dedicate a new initiative called the Center for Spirituality and Wellness, to provide a welcome and hospitable interfaith, ecumenical, multi-cultural permanent home
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“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

where the entire community, including and especially the reentry and recovery communities, can come to seek and find care, comfort and health regardless of religious affiliation.
This month we will start a new program called “High Noon,” that is to a spiritual time of reflection that is meant to alternate at noon Monday through Thursday between chapel and 12-step programs.
We are also in the process of partnering with other faith-based institutions, reentry programs and governmental agencies in attempts to house much-needed reentry and recovery programs here at the church - programs such as a new Bridgeport Pardons Center and a Bridgeport Faith-Based Access to Recovery Center.  These programs specifically designed to help the people and families of reentry and recovery communities See and feel Seen under God.
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“Unseen”
Jeff Grant Sermon
April 7, 2013
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut

It has been seven years since my daughter’s eighteenth birthday – and I’m proud to say that I’ve celebrated many birthdays with her since. My older daughter is expecting a baby in a couple of weeks, so my ex-wife, and Lynn and I will all be grandparents soon. My step- daughter, who most of you know here from church, turns fifteen next week too. We have all learned to count our blessings everyday, and not our bruises. But, as we all know, bruises are a part of life – we just don’t have to suffer because of them.
We don’t have to suffer - and we don’t have to remain Unseen - as we live this blessed and wonderful life because Christ - the one who suffered most - suffered for us all.