Finding Christmas Joy in Prison
By Jody Griffin
Avery and Mitchell Counties
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
In this most significant of all combined “We’re Expecting” Notifications and “Gender Reveal Parties” there is Truth for those who struggle to believe that God could love them because of things they have done.
This prophetic promise might be described as one that is ‘pregnant’ with possibilities…(See what we did there?) It represents a look forward for the one receiving the promise, towards a miracle of God that will literally change everything! For upon the arrival of this promised child, God would be forever present with humanity.
Immanuel, literally “God with us” is the fulfillment of the Promise of God for all people. In the context of those who are incarcerated, it means that there is no barrier caused by one’s actions that fall beyond the reach of God who can redeem. (Thanks Be To God!) Might not seem like much to some (though it most definitely IS!) but the reality of God’s Presence with us in all situations means that we are never alone.
Living in this Truth brings us the potential to evaluate our present reality with fresh understanding. If God is with us when we are faced with temptation, then we have everything we need to resist it. If God is with us when we fall, then we have the Love and Grace of God personified in Jesus Christ to deliver us from our sins and set us free. If God is with us when we strive to live as those who reflect God’s Presence, then we will be known by the fruit of God’s Spirit within us.
Luke’s description of the events immediately following this child’s ‘arrival’ make it clear that the response for those who would receive and believe was pure JOY! And it was JOY that could not be contained! It was JOY that simply had to be shared with everyone!
Of course, there is also evidence of some who received such wonderful news, not with JOY. Rather, the news of the arrival of the Promise of God was received as a threat. The evil that would be visited upon innocent babies under two years old and their parents upon the sudden loss of their sons would be the result of the backlash from powers of darkness. This backlash of fear-driven by the selfish desire to preserve power and control would challenge the JOY, but it could never, would never, WILL NEVER overtake the JOY that comes in knowing Jesus as the Savior of the world!
It is the privilege of the Chaplain to remind the incarcerated and their loved ones, as well as the staff who serve the correctional institution and their families, the contract workers and volunteers, and everyone else the Chaplain can possibly find, that there is a reason for us all to rejoice and sing, “JOY to the World! The Lord is come!” Because nothing can separate us from His Love!
Thank you for praying that the JOY of Christmas can be found behind the walls and within the gates this year. And thank you so very much for your faithful support that allows a Community Funded Chaplain to be there sharing the JOY that Jesus brings! Merry Christmas!
Jody Griffin is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Spruce Pine and Community Funded Chaplin at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution. If you would like more information contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more good Christian news from Jody HERE.