Dear Fellow Travelers,
I invite you all to email me your holiday messages of experience, strength, hope and faith. I will share them on our blog prisonist.org/prisonist-the-blog and with our friends, families, neighbors, colleagues and fellows. Please feel free to forward them to anyone in need this holiday season.
Below are a few messages to get us started.
Wishing you all the gift of faith and the blessing of hope (a perfect holiday message we received from friends this year).
Rev. Jeff Grant, J.D., M.Div.
Co-founder, Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc., Greenwich CT & Nationwide
A Christmas Message from the Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Ciccone, Progressive Catholic Church
Tomorrow, most of the world will pause and pay homage to the Christ child. As a priest in the Old Catholic Church I recognize the power and beauty of this season, sacred event and holy time of the year. One that has endured the test of time; a narrative that has lived on for over 2000 years. A celebration that proclaims the “good news” and offers hope and strength to countless people.
I wonder how many of us stop and think that we are celebrating someone, Jesus, who was a convicted criminal and one who was sentenced to death. That “passion” story that we read during Easter doesn’t really talk about the failure of the justice system or even society when they make a mistake. When they fail to see the good in people or the possibility of radical change and love. The story, like the man Jesus, is about transformation. The theory is that second chances are supposed to happen and that forgiveness, hope and resurrection was the point of that truly terrible event.
However, tomorrow it all about the birth of Christ. A new beginning and a fresh and wonderful start. Some of us, if not all of us, know a little about failure, loss, and even being a criminal. You see, most of us, if not all of us, have made mistakes. Some of us have learned a great deal from those and have endured great pain and suffering. Very much like Christ after only 33 years from that magical birth in Bethlehem.
Imagine that birth! A mother who was so scared because she was pregnant without being married. Disenfranchised by family and friends and no place to go or stay. A birth that was so common that few at the time even paid attention. I wonder if today that some of us are still too busy and are not paying attention. I am honored to be part of a wonderful ministry of Returning Citizens. People who once had great power and wealth, a force to be reckoned with. Some of us, myself included, probably didn’t pay much attention to this “birthday” idea. But now every Monday night we talk, pray, share our stories and tell a narrative of hope, change, and redemption. Most of us have started anew and are doing important things again, but for very different reasons. Even though we are making the world a better place again, most of us haven’t learned the simple idea of forgiveness, especially for ourselves. I am hoping for a miracle…..that we can change this during our Christmas season.
When I celebrate Mass I am reminded each time of this great gift and season. When we pour the water into the Chalice, every Priest recites an ancient prayer; “Through the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.” The God we celebrate tomorrow became human so that all of us can become divine. With our broken and fragile lives, even amidst the sorrows and losses, we can be the message of hope, joy and love. Indeed, that is a message of humanity and our divinity. The message, and the greatest gift, is that we can all be a divine Christmas miracle. May God love you all!