Washington State prisoners publish devotional Advent book
Authors and artists incarcerated in Washington State’s largest women’s prison are using their donations to inspire this holiday season with a new book and e-book.
GIG HARBOR, WA – In November, a group of prisoners collaborated to post a devotion that gives a new perspective on Advent. The book is Improbable Prophets: Advent devotion behind bars. The authors and artists are from Hagar’s Community Church, a Christian faith community that meets for worship behind bars at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, Washington’s largest prison for women. They get their name from Hagar, a biblical figure from the book of Genesis who, though ostracized, even meets and names God, saying “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).
In our culture today, people in prison are often invisible and ignored. But that is starting to change for this congregation as they learn to see themselves differently in the light of the scriptures. Members of the Hagar Community Church “find it comforting to know that God is the one who sees them – and that they are blessed,” says Riley Pickett, pastor of the incarcerated congregation. “I wanted to do an Advent devotion featuring the art of women inside and outside the prison. “
In the Christian calendar, Advent is the season that begins four Sundays before Christmas. During Advent, Christians prepare for the coming of Jesus. They are often guided by spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, repentance, and reading the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. It’s a great season to listen to voices that challenge common perspectives.
“Throughout history, prophets have peeled off the veneer of the ordinary and have pointed to a more beautiful, God-inspired view of creation,” said Crawford Brubaker, one of the contributors to Improbable Prophets. “The story of Advent in the scriptures is replete with prophets and improbable prophecies that paint a picture of a new and subversive reality that we are called to hope for and achieve. “
As our world emerges from a pandemic and our nation grapples with racial and political divisions, Brubaker says people in prison can be an inspiration to anyone hoping for a better future. “Members of the Hagar Community Church know something about expectation and imagination in a different way.”
Incarcerated members of the Hagar Community Church are unable to tithe in the traditional way. In 2020, they came up with the idea of using their collective talents to do devotions in order to financially support their religious community and have a positive impact on others.
Reverend Dexter Kearny pre-ordered the book in September. While waiting for the book to print in November, he downloaded the digital copy that came with the purchase. It is clear that devotion is already having the desired impact. “Members of the Hagar Community Church provide insight and deep wisdom through their art, poetry, and prayers in unlikely prophets. I am so excited that my church is engaging the love and joy as well as the righteousness and truth that shines through every day devotion, ”Reverend Kearny said.
The Improbable Prophets is not the first devotion of the Hagar Community Church. In November 2020, the church began creating Fury and Grace, a devotion to Lent, a season that spans the forty days leading up to Easter. They sold 800 copies of the book and raised nearly $ 4,000 for their community. In March 2021, they started working on The Improbable Prophets. Inspired by Isaiah, Mary, and Jesus, members of the Hagar Community Church began creating paintings, poetry, and prayers from their cells in hopes of inspiring and guiding others throughout. of the sacred season of Advent.
Devotion contains a short chapter for each day of Advent. Every day readers encounter scriptures, questions, reflections, art and poetry. The book also presents spiritual practices and tips for leading prayer services and the lighting of Advent candles.
During this holiday season, devotions like this will teach churches and individuals how to celebrate Advent in a new way: by looking forward to and working for the righteousness and peace we aspire to. What voices will shape your vacation?
Order copies of Improbable Prophets at cyclicalpublishing.com/unlikely-prophets-book. Proceeds from each sale are used to support the Hagar Community Church. To learn more about Hagar’s Community Church and to become a permanent supporter, visit hagarscommunitychurch.com.
Name: Brendan McClenahan
Email: send an email
Organization: Hagars Community Church
Address: 15508 Portland Ave SW, Lakewood, WA 98498, USA
Version number: 89050397
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