Do you know the history behind our holidays? For example, how thanksgiving began with the Pilgrims and the Indians in the early 1600s. They celebrated by sharing their food recipes, competing in various contests and by giving thanks for the provision of God, their families and, above all, their redemption in Jesus Christ. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln officially made Thanksgiving the last Thursday in November.
THANKSGIVING IN PRISON
The Lord says in everything to give thanks, for this is His will in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 You my wondering how we in prison can be thankful in everything? Certainly, it is not for our loss of our freedom, the destruction of our crimes, the harm to our victims and to our families. It is the same thing those pilgrims and Indians were thankful for -- God's provision through Christ.
He promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who came to us in our deepest despair, put His lovings arms around us and touched us in our unbearable pain. 2He not only healed us, but taught us to feel the pain of our victims and their families, and to be a comfort to those around us who are experiencing emotional turmoil. 3
The holidays in prison are especially depressing for many. Their beautiful memories of past holidays with their families and friends are fresh in their minds. Many have burnt all their bridges, so they are dealing with the pain of no out side contact. Some have lost all hope for living, not having anyone to return to upon parole. They turn to anyone who can help, hopefully to God and to the Christian community.
OUR CHRISTIAN DUTY
Did you know that over 80% of those polled in the United States consider themselves christian? I believe if a poll were taken, it would be about the same percentage in the penal system. They consider themselves Christian because they were born in the U.S. which is predominantly Christian. But how many recognize that Christ has given them the power to straighten out their crooked lives?
This is why those inside the penal system must not be ashamed of the Good News about Jesus Christ. It is the power of God at work saving everyone who believes. This Good news tells prisoners how God makes them right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. 4 Faith comes by hearing what God's word says about Jesus Christ. 5 This message must be confirmed in our lives and witnessed to everyone we meet, which is the solution to all problems. Oh let us give thanks to the Lord for all His wondrous works. 6
What's On The Menu
My compassionate friends have asked numerous times over the year if we are having a thanksgiving dinner. Not only do we have one on this day, but also on Christmas. The prisoners are thankful for these special dinners which only come around a few times a year.
Here is the menu, which looks somewhat better on paper, than on the plate. Salad/tomatoes – cucumbers and dressing, roast turkey, turkey ham in pineapple sauce, corn bread dressing, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, dinner roll with butter, pumpkin pie with whipped topping, ice cool-aid and ice cream.
But I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul: "For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” 7 I share many of these Scriptures, because they are some of my favorites, which I have put to memory.
Twelve Days of Christmas
Lastly, I would like to share with you the hidden meaning of the "Twelve Days of Christmas” and the secret behind the song. People often think of The Twelve Days of Christmas as the days preceding the festival. Actually. Christmas is a season of the Christian Year that last for days beginning December 25th and lasting until January 6th -- the day of Epiphany -- when the church celebrates the revelation of Christ as the light of the world and recalls the journey of the Magi.
In 1525, Mary Queen of Scots, made it a crime to print a Bible in common language. People in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly. Because of this, someone wrote "The Twelve days of Christmas” as a kind of secret catechism (teaching) that could be sung in public, without risk of persecution. The song has two kinds of interpretation: The surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the church.
Each element in the carol is a code word for a Christian reality.
- The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.
- The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.
- Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
- The four call birds are the four Gospels.
- The Five gold rings recall the Torah (Law) the first five books of the Old Testament.
- The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
- Seven swans a swimming represent the seven fold work of the Holy Spirit.
- The eight maids a milking are the eight beatitudes.
- Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
- The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments
- Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.
- Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the 12 points of belief in the Apostles Creed.
There you have it. I pray these have been a blessing in your life this Christmas season. May God's richest blessings be upon you, your family and friends.
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1 1 These. 5:18
2 John 14:16-17
3 John 14: 26-27
4 Rom. 1: 16,17
5 Rom 10:17
6 Psa. 26:7
7 Rom. 14:17