Dec 18, 2016

by Pastor Kimberly K. LaPlante, Church of Hope inside the walls of the SD Women's Correctional Facility in Pierre, SD.

The Christmas tree is a familiar symbol of the Christmas season. Many of us have memories of a childhood Christmas tree. I remember as a child going with my mom to buy a real Christmas tree at a department store parking lot on a night that was way below zero. In our frozen fog my mother and I wrestled that highly iced tree into the back of my Mother’s brown rambler. Thus, when we arrived home we struggled to get into the house. Of course, it did not fit into the tree stand so we used an axe to chop off the bottom of the tree and finally placed it in the stand. In our focus on the tree we didn't realize that my little brother had taken the axe to our coffee table and the splinters of wood were suddenly flying through the air. We quickly retrieved the weapon and set to our work. Although we had to wait for the tree to thaw, when it did it took over our tiny room with a vengeance. Truly, all a person could see and smell was tree in our miniature house. What pure bliss it was and it formed my love of the Christmas tree.

There are Christians that set aside the Christmas tree as a pagan symbol, which it has been in some ways in history but I say Creator God created the tree before any pagan tradition. The tree is a symbol of life, beauty and it is often utilized as a place of rest from the sun and the rain. Almost three years ago, right after our wedding my husband Daniel and I purchased an abandoned house that was in great disarray. We restored it from the bottom up and when we finished it we purchased the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever had to celebrate the beauty of the house we had restored. It was a symbol of love and restoration.

Last Spring, to our surprise God moved us to a new position and away from our large two-story home to very small home. The first thing I thought of when we saw our new home was our Christmas tree will never fit. I have to admit my heart was sad.

The position Daniel and I accepted was to be the pastors for Church of Hope, a church from the inside out in the South Dakota Women’s Prison and it has been the most beautiful gift to serve these incredible women and work with such amazing staff. One of my most favorite things in the world is to see the transformation work of the heart, to watch something broken become whole, to witness in the places of death the springing forth of new life and the pieces and places others have written off become the most beautiful treasures.

This weekend Church of Hope hosted a Christmas party, with the amazing support of the prison, for over six hundred people, which included the ladies and their families/children. The ladies spent months making decorations and preparing programs and skits. We were able to give away toys and candy to every child and provide holiday refreshment to everyone because of amazing donors who support Church of Hope.

Oh, Christmas tree! There was my Christmas tree in the middle of this Christmas joy, in the decorated gym in the prison with the children and the mamas. My heart overflowed with power of God’s love over me through this amazing community. The Christmas story is about God giving His most precious gift to the world and in that action the gift became even more precious. My personal symbol of love and restoration had become a corporate story of love and restoration. Pure bliss!

Merry Christmas from Church of Hope


Category: Hope

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