Faithlife Corporation
Notes & Transcripts

One person wrote of experiencing this kind of worship in a very likely place. He says:

Locked behind the razor-wire fences of a Florida prison is no place to spend a holiday. I'd spent 15 Christmases under these less-than-festive conditions, but this year my situation looked even bleaker. I was stuck in confinement—a prison inside a prison where the supposed troublemakers are sent. In reality, anyone can find himself in the hole by irritating the wrong person.

Because I was going to be locked in a cell 24 hours a day through Christmas, I figured nothing memorable could happen. Beyond a five-minute shower three times weekly, there wasn't much to look forward to….

In a way, that Christmas was like the first Christmas 2,000 years ago. Most people went about their lives paying bills, cooking dinner, traveling to and fro. …A few shepherds working the late-night shift got a spectacular celestial show from some angels who proclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to men!" (Luke 2:14). …And some wise men, eastern Magi, had begun their journey to Jerusalem looking for someone called "The King of the Jews."…But for the rest of the world, it was just another day. No holiday music, no discount sales, no trees with lights. …

Christmas night in confinement, alone in my cell, I read in my Bible about Paul and Silas, who were also inside a prison. Despite their miserable predicament, they were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners listened.

The lights went out and I stared at the ceiling from my bunk, wondering if I could praise God in the midst of my circumstances. I could hear a mouse nibbling on some crackers I left out for him. Then suddenly I heard a voice come out of the vent above the toilet. It was Andrew in the next cell. "

Merry Christmas, Roy," he said.

"Merry Christmas, Andrew," I replied.

"Do you know any Christmas songs?" Andrew asked.

"Yeah, I know a few."

"I'll sing one if you'll sing one," he said.

"What should we sing?"

"Joy to the World." And he sang every verse. I sang the chorus with him. Then it was my turn and I chose "Silent Night." Then he sang "O Come All Ye Faithful," and I answered with "Feliz Navidad."…

"I have another song," Andrew said, and sang "O Holy Night." Silence filled the quad as everyone listened. It was a moment I'll never forget. It not only reminded me of Paul and Silas, but it made me realize every day is Christmas when God has arrived. It wasn't just another day, and I wasn't alone. Emmanuel was in confinement with me, in my cell, blessing me.

You see, whether you’re in the Notre Dame Cathedral or the Florida State Penitentiary, real worship can happen because it doesn’t depend on your outward circumstances but on inner reverence, outward expression and constant focus.

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