And so it was that one of these inmates, serving a life sentence, wrote me the following poem on Christmas Eve in 1996:
God Bless the Sinner
Twas the night before Christmas, and in prison I slept;
Yet the spirit of Christmas, in my heart I still kept.
Not for the presents, for gifts, or a toy;
But for Jesus, our Savior, who brings us great joy.
Even from prison, I know this is real;
The love of our Savior, in my heart I can feel.
I know He did suffer, from the day of His birth;
I know of His reason, for coming to Earth.
I know in my darkness, I will not despair;
My Savior is Jesus, and I know He does care.
For He was in prison, He knows of my pain;
His love still is with me, He will not refrain.
In spirit He shows me, the gifts that await;
Once I do enter, through God's Holy Gate.
He reminds me of Salvation, and of my right to choose;
He knows how I feel, He's walked in my shoes.
He shows me His great love, every day of the year;
Not only to you, but even in here.
So open your heart, and open your eyes;
Every day still is Christmas, and Christ is our prize.
We need only ask, in faith we must pray;
For Jesus walks with us, each night and each day.
Don't look for great things, while here on this Earth;
Just look to Jesus, and think of His birth.
So pray against evil, around us you'll see;
On Earth there are prisons, in Heaven we're free.
This day is a blessing, in faith we believe;
Pray for all sinners, on this Christmas Eve.