O Holy Night continues to be my favorite Christmas hymn. The song’s beautiful refrain echoes in my mind …
O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
As we enter the season of Advent with expectancy and preparation, the Ranch’s Spiritual Life team, led by Chaplain Rick Jones, plans a variety of activities leading up to the celebration of Christmas. We hold a tree lighting on each campus to draw focus to the coming of Jesus, the light of the world (as even in the darkness of winter, we wait with anticipation for the light). Besides the tree lighting, kids decorate trees, bake cookies, spend time with staff, volunteer at local community organizations, participate in general winter festivities, and attend Spiritual Life groups and chapel services, all centered on the promises of Christmas.
Despite efforts to make the holidays special at the Ranch, it comes as no surprise that Christmas can be a very difficult time for our kids … hurtful memories, broken dreams, separation from loved ones, painful circumstances, many heartaches and concerns.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
Advent will not whisk away the struggles and trials of their pain; yet, the good news of Christmas is that no matter the struggles our children face or the lives they’ve experienced, the Savior continues to come. He comes in the frailty of a child into a sin-stained world. He comes to redeem the angry, sad, grief-stricken parts of our hearts. He comes to redeem the hopeless; he redeems the lost. He makes forgiveness possible, and He brings hope to new beginnings.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
We pray our Ranch kids will come to know the incredible love their Heavenly Father has for each of them, the value that He has placed on their lives. We pray they will realize that a past life does not define who they are in Christ, nor does it define God’s plan for their lives. And we pray they will grasp the certain hope and joy of a Heavenly Father who keeps His promises; a Heavenly Father who loves them unconditionally without change, who will never leave or forsake them … whose love sent a light to the darkness at Christmas, and who one day will welcome us into eternity.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night, when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
We hope the weeks leading up to Christmas will be meaningful for you. Thank you for the care and compassion you show to the children at the Ranch. Please keep them in your prayers. You are touching the lives of young people in endless and wondrous ways!
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Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Christian residential treatment and educational center for children and their families. We help the most troubled, complicated, and amazing kids by providing best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care, where we look kids in the eye, walk with them, and help them become their best selves.