(EDITOR’S NOTE: What follows is a sermon for December 21st, the longest night of the year. On this night many churches have a “Longest Night” service for those who are struggling to find joy this Christmas, often due to grief. This sermon was shared at St. David’s Episcopal Church, Richmond Virginia, in 2017.)
“The Longest Night”
A Sermon by Matthew B. Harper
The longest night of the year. A time when darkness comes early and stays late, when night feels unexpected and interminable. Tonight we gather to acknowledge that darkness, and to dwell in it quietly; we know it exists, and it’s okay that it does. “Merry Christmas” may not feel all that ‘Merry,’ but it is Christmas and we know the light of dawn is just over the horizon.
“From Magic to Miracle”
by Marcos R
Silent night… Holy night… All is calm… All is bright is crooning out of my old school General Electric Superadio II (1970’s model boom box) while bright flashing images of holiday commercials, Christmas movies and Charlie Brown specials splash across the bed sheets and bland narrow cell walls through my 2008 model RCA digital bubble TV screen. I channel surf while sitting on my top bunk, lost in my thoughts, missing my sons… Continue reading
by Taj Alexander Mahon-Haft
Warden humbugged the doors up tight
Hot chocolate, hugs, and mistletoe stay out!
No cheer or candy canes breathe here.
No winter, festive, or wonderland fit between the bars.
No colors, twinkles, scents sneak beneath the fence,
even gifts exchanged violate basic rules.
Trees, angels, stars, it matters not,
season’s spirits and symbols need not apply,
But one subdued, shackled service can we see.
Yuletide trimmings, holiday tidings
must be checked at the door.
If Stalin and the Grinch procreated,
that’d be the Christmas mascot here.
Claiming “security,” they scrooge us every year. Continue reading
by Jessica McGee
This year I have decided to spend my Christmas with Christ. That is the beginning of what Christmas means to me. See, a little baby was born to die for my sins, so why should I walk around moping because I am not home with my family? God is with me wherever I am, so He is with me right here in prison. He wants me to share the Word with others and that’s what I have been doing. I have given so many presents to others in the Name Of Jesus and just spreading Christmas cheer, I haven’t noticed that Christmas is here already. God has given me so much joy this season, and it’s all because I focused on the Christ in “Christ-mas.” Thank you Lord for all you do and if you don’t do nothing else I’m still grateful. I hope that I have the right attitude, because your attitude directs your actions and your actions show your beliefs and your beliefs reflect your circumstances. I want everything to reflect the one I serve, and that’s Christ Jesus. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!
Circumstances beyond our control delayed the publication of several more contributions for Christmas. Fortunately, December 25th is only the first day of Christmas! There are twelve days of Christmas, so there’s still time! In the next two days look for a a few more reflections of “Christmas in Prison” and a poem or two.
“My Most Memorable Christmas in Prison” by CM
The holidays in general, and Christmas in particular, take on special meaning for those of us in prison for a variety of reasons. For the most part, guys are looking forward to receiving a decent mean of turkey and/or ham. Prison staff typically adopts a slightly less confrontational stance and well-meaning volunteers often come in for special events like concerts from church choirs. For some, this season will mark the one time of the year they’ll receive a visit, perhaps some mail; and for others, it’s a time that reminds them just how alone they are because these visits don’t come.
by Terrance “Lil’ Bear” Plummer
Christmas In A Prison House
A house is not a home. I’ve been in prison now for 21 years, I was put in jail 6 days before Christmas December 19th 1995. Now, that was one of the toughest Christmas’s I had ever known! The pain that takes place within from missing family! It was primal. One can almost hear the silent screams inside at God and life. For the man or woman who never came to know Christ Jesus while in this prison experience, the silent screams never really go away at the Christmas season. It’s never easy doing time during the Holiday Day season while in prison, but when one has had an experience with Jesus, everything changes. Most men I’m doing time with never knew Jesus is the true and real reason why we celebrate. Most can’t see the new life Jesus really bring. Continue reading
I have been incarcerated for 14 years and the more I read the Word of God, the more I realize that my former traditions of celebrating Christmas were in fact not Christlike at all. The corporations of the globe have seized and confiscated this day to exploit consumers and enslave them to worship this holiday solely based on materialism. Continue reading
by Sheldon McDowell
As I approach spending my 25th Christmas in prison, the subject matter at hand has brought upon me some reflections that I’d like to share.
I can’t begin to tell you of the pain and misery I suffered during my early years of incarceration as the Christmas Season approached; the commercials on T.V., the music on the radio, the decorations adorning the prison walls and covering the security stations, the bright-colored clothing worn by the staff and visitors; all invoked memories of times recently passed spent at home with my family, that I’d rehearse over and over again in my mind until restrained tears would burst through from my eyes in want of re-living the experiences of joy and blessings I’d once known.
by Hugh Brown
Perhaps the most challenging Christmas in prison was the first one. I had only been incarcerated four months so my adjustment to this environment was far from being completed. The only gift I wanted for Christmas that year was to be home. Well, there was something else I wanted, but I couldn’t turn back the hands of time to undo the hurt I’d caused. As the years have passed, Christmas away from family and friends has a new meaning. Yes, I’m physically separated from my biological family; however, I’ve been blessed to enjoy the true spirit of Christmas with the men around me – my extended family.