Parole for Christmas

I don’t know what I was expecting. World peace? The end of poverty?

But when I asked the six felons at the table around me what they wanted for Christmas, they responded in unison. “Papers!”

“Papers?” I naively asked.

“Yeah. Parole papers,” the one closest to me explained. “We want to be home for Christmas.”

Half of the men at my table were in the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary prison ministry degree program. (Yeah, I know. It’s a mouth-full.) I questioned those three again. “But what about your degree? If you got out on parole-” They stopped me before I could continue.

“There’s a N.O.B.T.S. on the outside. We’d be knocking on the door to finish there,” one of them explained. He’d obviously already followed that somewhat unattainable train of thought. I imagine they had each dreamed the what-if-I-wake-up-tomorrow-and-the-warden-tells-me-I’m-free-dream at least once or twice.

I returned home from the prison Christmas party to piles of laundry, but I couldn’t stop thinking about parole papers. Parole, according to Webster’s, is the conditional release of a prisoner serving an indeterminate or unexpired sentence. It’s when a prisoner is released before having paid their “debt to society.”

Although not often found on holiday wish lists, parole papers really are a fitting gift for Christmas. You see, at Christmas we celebrate the birth of our Savior – the one who died for our sins. The one who went to the cross in place of you and I, in exchange for our debt. The debt we didn’t pay. Jesus Christ is the only one who can provide parole papers.

Standing in my laundry room sorting the darks and the lights, I realized I’m just as desperate for “papers” as the men locked in Phillips State Prison tonight. Without those papers, I have no freedom.

True liberation can only come from Christ. Because of Him, I’m no longer bound. So the real great news of Christmas is this. Christ offers free parole papers to each of us.

Will you accept them?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NIV

7 Responses to Parole for Christmas
  1. Parole for Christmas | Sheep To The Right
    December 20, 2011 | 3:07 am

    […] today at 5 Minutes for Faith to find out what my prison friends really wanted for Christmas. Click HERE to read the rest of my devotion. Then leave me a comment and tell me what you want for Christmas. […]

  2. Laura Kramer
    December 20, 2011 | 6:37 am

    *sigh* Freedom. Need that. Want that. How many times has He offered the parole papers only for me to return to the prison cell once again? I find myself staring at these stone walls and realize…He never put me here–I did. Grateful He always extends “papers” to release me into freedom.

  3. Carol Hatcher
    December 20, 2011 | 11:04 am

    Oh, me, too Laura! It’s amazing how difficult we make it on ourselves!

  4. Kimberly
    December 20, 2011 | 11:10 pm

    What a perfect Christmas post, Carol! May we walk in the freedom He paid for!

    Merry Christmas, dear friend and sister in Christ. 🙂

  5. […] 5 Minutes for Faith contributing writer and author of the blog, “Sheep to the Right.”Parole for ChristmasI don’t know what I was expecting. World peace? The end of poverty?But when I asked the six felons […]

  6. hippie4ever
    December 25, 2011 | 11:11 pm

    Beautifully put. Merry Christmas 🙂

  7. Dan Parker
    January 3, 2012 | 12:50 pm

    One difference in your parol. It is a full pardon, unconditional, sealed by the blood of our Lord, Jesus. The conditions are tose of response, grateful response. He has met all the required conditions for justification. You are free. Now, go finish the laundry. Of course you could coax Alan to do it. Tell him I said you are free.
    Blessed New Year,