In the morning I was mc-ing the Sunday service in prison. They're getting a chapel full these days, around 40 or more men, who are all very attentive and listen well. I wasn't doing the main talky bit so it was less stressful and everything went fine and dandy.
Then in the afternoon as it was the first Sunday of the month we had a tribal gathering at Zac's. Again I was in the chair and again it went well. Apart from me getting Jeremiah and Joshua confused and showing up my complete lack of knowledge of the Old Testament. But they're used to me being twp now.
There was a good discussion and we had some great stories from Jason and Nicky - and we sang some songs! Don't tell Sean! (Not that he has anything against singing you understand.) Paul said he wanted to sing every Tuesday and Redcoat said he was going to put in an official complaint. You can't please ...
This last week Redcoat celebrated 5 years of being drug-free. I first met him back in 2006 and I wrote about him at the time.
There's a new face in Zac's (new to me anyway). He's of slight build, wearing a red coat, and with alcohol on his breath. He sits at a table and his eyes are focused somewhere way beyond the confines of the room. I guess that he has stumbled across the place and is grateful for somewhere warm indoors to spend an evening; I think he will be asleep before long.
We're continuing in the run-up to Christmas with a look at Mary. I'd told Sean I had written a 'Mary monologue' and he'd asked me to read it. Before that we look at the places in the Bible that Mary gets a mention. A very world-wise view is expressed of how it would have been for both Mary and Joseph: a pregnant unmarried girl and the man who has to decide whether to take her on or cast her off.
Redcoat isn't asleep but is following intently. He has always felt that Joseph is undervalued. Several times he interrupts and in a rambling, drawn-out fashion - the pauses typical, I think, of a drunk getting his thoughts together - makes this point. Given the chance, I would exchange knowing smiles with someone. If I had been in charge I would have been tempted to step in, in one of the pauses, and carry on with what I was saying, hoping he would get the message, but Sean waits patiently until he is sure he has finished. Others speak up and acknowledge the truth of what he is saying, giving him respect. Then Sean asks me to read.
At the end of the bible study the first person to come and speak to me is Redcoat. 'That was incredible,' he says. I am humbled.