18 Dec 2017
Christmas is a happy time! Christmas is a time when trees are decorated with lights and ornaments, gifts are bought, put under the tree and families gather to celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. The popular Christmas songs we play create a mood and atmosphere of playfulness and warm feelings. The popular song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Yet, while it may be true for us, for those souls in prison, it is the very opposite.
The Holidays, especially for women in prison are a period of aggravated loneliness and severe self-loathing. Self-loathing and self-hatred flourish during the holidays for the incarcerated because they cannot be with their families…and, they know the reasons why. They have been convicted of a crime where the penalty is separation from society. They understand that, but recognition of their mistakes does nothing to alleviate the pain of their not being able to hug their babies, or press their noses against their child’s neck and inhale the sweet smell of their young child’s skin. They understand their actions and mistakes have caused their pain, but that makes them feel even worse about themselves. Christmastime, rather than being a time of family celebration and warm feelings, becomes, for women in prison, similar to being on a merry-go-round that has stopped dead. Life is no longer moving and all they can do is wait, pray and cry themselves to sleep. It is a very rough, tough and relentlessly cruel period of time for those in prison.
As followers of Jesus, we are not told to open up the prison doors and let everyone out regardless of crime. We are not commanded to ignore personal consequences and individual accountability. To be sure, Jesus would not advocate for a quick fix.
Rather, Jesus calls us to visit those in prison (See Matthew 25). To clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. He instructs us to love and visit them, and in doing so, love and visit Him, by proxy.
How can we do that? Several ways:
- Give a Gift: Prison Fellowship sponsors a program called Angel Tree. Angel Tree (pfm.org). PFM works with local churches and organizations to provides the names of the children of those incarcerated to people who are willing to buy a gift and have it delivered to the child in the parent’s name (google Angel Tree in your town).
- Write a ChristmasCard: Every prison has a Chaplain that can receive Christmas cards, even written anonymously, and distributed to inmates who wish a card. Look up a prison nearest to you on the Internet for specific facility information.
- Google “prison ministry (your city’s name): You will be astounded at how many small boutique prison ministries exist to help you connect with those hurting this Christmas Season.
All it takes is the willingness to help and the awareness that there are women and men who need to feel Jesus’ love through you and your efforts. Let them know, during this Christmas season, they are remembered! Do it today!
21 Dec 2015
The fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White all revolve around a damsel in distress being rescued by a handsome prince. These stories are timeless and were our favorites and now are the favorites of our children. Evil surrounds our heroine and she faces death and poverty unless someone comes to her rescue. Events always look dire and awful with no real savior in sight. Yet, at the last moment, Prince Charming arrives with a kiss or glass slipper to push evil back and bring perfection, health and happiness to them both.
We all label these stories Fairy Tales because they just don’t happen in real life, right? Wrong! Christmas… the birth of Jesus is the real life coming of Prince Charming into our world to save you and me. We all know in our hearts the presence and power of sin in our lives. We don’t like to be reminded of it, but we know it’s there. We know that we are in need of a Prince Charming to wave off the sin and rescue us from it. God demands punishment for our sin because he’s perfect. But God loves us so much that He sent His Son to take our punishment. That’s the beauty and power of the Cross.
Jesus’ birth signals that our Prince Charming has been born… that The evil witch will be defeated and that we will live happily ever after. The poison of sin is removed by the kiss of our Savior Jesus. Let’s all celebrate His birth with the joy that comes from knowing our Prince Charming has arrived!