Tomorrow is Moral Monday in Georgia, a day set aside to rally our state government to put the needs of people over politics. It is especially ironic that on a day when we lift up people, the state plans to execute the lone female inmate on death row. Kelly Gissendaner, who was sentenced to death for her involvement in the death of her husband in 1997, is awaiting one last gasp effort to avoid death. In the last couple of days, over 400 area clergy have signed a petition calling on the state to halt the execution.
Kelly has accepted full responsibility for her actions and while incarcerated has earned a Certificate in Lay Theology from a program sponsored by my alma mater, Candler School of Theology. Her story is one of transformation and redemption. Candler students held a prayer vigil for Kelly last week.
I spoke about Kelly’s story today in my sermon. She gave a speech in 2010 at the graduation ceremony and I shared some of her words from that speech.
“Theology is about growing in truth, rather than being a finished thing. Even prison cannot erase my hope or conviction that the future is not settled for me, or anyone. History is still in the making. I have learned not to place my hope in all kinds of fantastic predictions and speculations about a future I cannot really know anything about. I have a placed my hope in the God I now know, the God whose plans and promises are made known to me in the whole story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
I share these because I believe them to be a powerful testimony to the power of the love and grace of God. Today’s text was the story of Jesus turning water into wine, the first sign of who he is in the Gospel of John. This act is a call to see as God sees. Some see this as a miracle. I believe it’s simply what God does. It’s a sign of the kingdom of God among us.
The truth is that God does amazing things, even in the darkest of places. Even on death row. I hope and pray our state does the right thing and spares Kelly’s life. I don’t believe God is finished with her, or with you, or with me. Not by a long shot.