I visited Jesus today. I went into our prison today and I visited Jesus. I drove up and parked a distance away because it is street cleaning day in front of the prison. I put on my badge, left my cell phone and purse in my car and walked in the prison. They screen me with a metal detector and I wait for my ride (that is what they call the C.O. escort.)
Another minister came in with me to visit with Jesus as well. I went to a corner of the narrow room with lots of glass windows and telephones at each partition for their family and legal visits. I pulled up 2 chairs in a corner and told the other minister, “This makes me think of Roger and Hammerstein’s ‘in my own little corner in my own little chair’ as Cinderella imagines a better, different life.
And an inmate comes to visit. Yes, I visited Jesus today. How can this be? Lord, how is it you are the least of us, those imprisoned, hungry, naked, thirsty, a stranger? How is it? I do not know how, but I visited Jesus today. Why? Guilt? Maybe. Obligation? Maybe. My job? Maybe. Whatever the reason, I visited Jesus today.
If you have ever been to Lancaster City in Pennsylvania, you may have seen our county prison looks like a castle. It looks rather medieval. There is despair and there is hope living in the same walls.
Isaiah gives us a message:
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners, Isaiah 61:1
Jesus stood in the synagogue and read that text and told them, that day of the Lord is today in their hearing. Yes, the spirit upon one means binding up the broken hearted, good news to the poor and release or freedom to the prisoners. I saw that spirit today. I may not have any legal authority to declare judgment or acquittal, but I can name the spirit when I see it. And I visited Jesus today.
It wasn’t magic. Chains didn’t fall off like with Peter and Paul. No, but I visited Jesus today. I am thankful for my time with Jesus today.
Matthew 25:36 “I was in prison and you visited me”
Rev. Jonette Gay