Bishop Rob started by showing us his Bishop’s Crook. He described how the hooked end is used to guide and protect the sheep, whereas the other end can be used to prod and admonish the sheep. The Bishop talked about God’s justice being a mix of these two aspects. When a crime is committed justice need to be done – the offender is punished, but the punishment goes hand in hand with the love and mercy of God.
Bishop Rob mentioned his interest in drama and the theatre, and this came across in some wonderful story telling. We heard about restorative justice, bringing together an elderly victim of crime with a boy who had stolen from her. He was so moved and upset to realise the impact he had had on her life that he offered to try to make amends by helping her with shopping. She was able to conquer her fear by meeting him.
Bishop Rob’s work in prison chaplaincy in Hong Kong was very interesting, and we heard two stories of very serious offenders whose lives had been completely turned around by letting Christ enter their lives. The first was an artist and Bishop Rob brought with him a wonderful painting of the cross made up of Chinese letters depicting one of the psalms. We also heard a very moving story about a triad gang leader in solitary confinement for 14 years who started illustrating church magazines and after converting his behaviour and personality was so transformed that he was released from prison. He used his artistic skills to become a tattooist and employed other ex-gang members in this work. We heard how the Bishop’s pectoral cross was actually designed as a tatoo, and represented the three crosses on Calgary, the central one being the cross of Jesus, then with one representing the tattooist, and criminals saved by Jesus, and the other those who did not let him into their lives. Bishop Rob explained that there sadly were many more stories of prisoner’s who were not open to hearing the word of God.
We had an interesting discussion which covered aspects such as forgiveness, especially with regard to murder, and the impact of restorative justice on victims of crime.
We have decided to have a break in August. The next God-Bites session will take place on Thursday 26th September and will be led by our Lay Reader Chris Ladner.