Today’s post is written by Bruce Burnside and Mitzi J. Budde. Burnside is a contributing writer to Hear My Voice and Budde served as contributing writer and co-editor.
Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them. (Hebrews 13:3)
It was a privilege to be one of the contributing writers for Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book. As a person in prison, it has been a joyful satisfaction to see how valuable and much appreciated the book is among the incarcerated men I have come to know. Ronell reads from it every morning with a yellow marker, highlighting passages: “I especially like the part about waiting, it’s exactly right, I think I needed to hear that,” he told me. Jeffrey wrote, after receiving the book, “Thank you…I’ve read 50 pages already, it is beautiful and a perfect size, the cover is like leather which makes it feel important and the colored pictures are a nice touch. I’ll use it every day while I’m here.” Logan said: “In prison I feel like no one hears me. This book tells me that is not true and gives me a kind of hope. Thank you for getting it for me.” Aaron said, “I like the prayers for ordinary days. Last night I had a bad encounter with the sergeant. Afterwards I went to my cell and read the prayers for corrections officers.”
Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book can be a marvelous Christmas gift not only for persons in prison, but also for their families and loved ones and friends. “The book really understands what it is like for us,” Nick told me. “My wife has a copy too.” Give it as a gift, yourself, and why not encourage your congregation to give copies too? Statistics reveal that half of all U.S. adults have an immediate family member currently or previously in prison. You know a person in prison or jail or a detention center. As we read in the book of Hebrews, “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them.”
Former ELCA bishop serving a prison sentence in Wisconsin
In this COVID-time, our opportunities to volunteer and visit with those who are incarcerated in our local prisons and jails are at a standstill. But the prison ministries of our congregations do not need to stop. The ELCA has published a prayer book for God’s people in prison: Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book. By sending copies to the prisons, jails, halfway houses, and detention centers in our communities, we can offer this expression of the love of Christ to God’s people who are living in these institutions at this very difficult time. Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book would be an excellent gift in this COVID Christmas season. It’s available from Amazon and Augsburg Fortress.
How do you get the book to incarcerated individuals and to groups in the prison system? If you know someone who is incarcerated, have it shipped directly to them as a gift. If you or your congregation would like to provide copies to your local jail or prison, contact the chaplain, librarian, volunteer coordinator or warden there and find out how you might send copies. For more information, see Suggestions for Distribution and Use of Hear My Voice from Augsburg Fortress.
Do you know someone who is isolated and alone in this coronavirus season? Many seniors are finding themselves imprisoned in their homes in this extended time of isolation. Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book could be a welcome Christmas gift for them as well, with its themes of waiting and hope and listening for God. The assurance of God’s presence in the midst of difficult situations is a universal message of grace that we all need to hear this Christmas.
Mitzi J. Budde
Contributing writer and co-editor,
Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book
Image by Robyn Sand Anderson
Copyright Robyn Sand Anderson