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  • Writer's pictureAddison Crissone

When Mercy Walked In

“This man is found guilty of murder. His punishment will be death.” The Judge says, his voice bouncing off the courtroom walls and echoing in my ears.




I shake and tremble with fear and terror at what lies ahead; the weight of my crime lays like a heavy burden upon my shoulders, my sinful actions haunting my memories and tormenting my mind.

I know I am guilty, I know what I have done and what my punishment means and where it will lead. The chains and shackles that bind me are bound tight, and I cannot free myself from their grasp.

An officer takes me by the arm and leads me out of the courtroom, my body too faint to resist and rebel.

I drag the chains around my feet across the floor, the horrifying sound following me all the way to the prison door. I step inside and the door is locked, leaving me to my own thoughts of impending doom.

Outside my cell, Christmas decorations line the walls, offering what little holiday cheer they could afford. A small bible rests on the cot, and I pick it up.

Faintly, I can hear Christmas carols playing through the jail.

“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.”

Memories flood my mind of all the Christmases past, and I remember I have had my last.

Falling to my knees on the cold prison floor, tears begin to stream down my cheeks like a fountain- wishing I could heal what I have broken, and redeem what has been lost.

I sit there long after the tears have left my eyes, worn and tired from running all these years.

I lay down on the hard cot in the corner, and somehow, sleep finds me and takes me into its depths.

A glorious light shone in the eastern sky, and from it rose a bright and shining star.

I stood and stumbled closer to the light, shaking now with both fear and wonder.

I looked and I beheld a little towards the east in a town called Bethlehem, which was a crowded stable. Inside the stable, slept Mary and Joseph, both worn from their travels and Mary being with child.

And as the darkness spread across the land, it came time for Mary to welcome her baby into the world, and I heard from my cell, the faint and wondrous cry of new life.

And as she cradled her newborn son, Mary knew within her that this was no ordinary child; through him, this little Jesus, would come the salvation the world so desperately needs.

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my savior,” She whispered to the babe, “For he that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is his name. His Mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.”

I trembled as my eyes gazed at the crying infant, and I cried out as if in pain myself. I looked at the perfect little Lamb, and then at myself, the wretched broken sinner that I am!

At that moment, the weight was lifted from my shoulders, and every trace of guilt left my mind. The chains and shackles that had once bound me, fell from my hands and feet, freeing me.

The dawn of glory shone on me, the radiant hues coming from the child’s little face, and I awoke as if from a dream.

I sat up in my cell, the dream in all its glory blazing through my mind.

I laughed aloud, and sang with the prophet Isaiah:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given!”

I picked up the little bible once more, and began to read a psalm of David:

“Have mercy on me, O God,

because of your unfailing love.

Because of your great compassion,

blot out the stain of my sins.

Wash me clean from my guilt.

Purify me from my sin.

For I recognize my rebellion;

it haunts me day and night.

Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;

I have done what is evil in your sight.

You will be proved right in what you say,

and your judgment against me is just.[a]

For I was born a sinner—

yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.

But you desire honesty from the womb,[b]

teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Oh, give me back my joy again;

you have broken me—

now let me rejoice.

Don’t keep looking at my sins.

Remove the stain of my guilt.

Create in me a clean heart, O God.

Renew a loyal spirit within me.

Do not banish me from your presence,

and don’t take your Holy Spirit[d] from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and make me willing to obey you.

Then I will teach your ways to rebels,

and they will return to you.

Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;

then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.

Unseal my lips, O Lord,

that my mouth may praise you.

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.

You do not want a burnt offering.

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.

You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

I stood, a smile spreading across my face.

This, o sweet mercy, is what Christmas is for!

At that moment, as the child was born, the devil and all of hell began to shake and tremble.

But joy was mine that night, for I knew that in the middle of my dreary prison cell, and into my sinful heart, Mercy walked in.

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