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As we finished up our visit to Eastern State Penitentiary, we came across just a couple of more things.  But really when I think about the prison, here’s an image that comes to mind:

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An old abandoned hallway – dead, empty.  No life.

That’s what prison seems to be like – emptiness and decay – waiting for death to come for a visit.

In contrast, we also saw this:

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It’s the outside of the chapel.  We couldn’t get to the chapel – it’s off-limits.  I would have loved to see inside it.  But even this seemed to be fitting.

How many in our society feel jailed in and trapped – in prison in their own minds and bodies.  How many desire to go into that chapel to experience and meet God, but are restricted from going in?  All too often we hear a message of judgement and separation that bombards us from many angles and with great volume – many times clothing itself as a message of Christianity.

Yet, that is not what the Good News really is.  Part of the Good News is release for the prisoner.  Oh how we need to be released from the prisons we are in – prisons of hate and fear.  Prisons of addiction.  Prisons of violence.  Prisons of separation and broken relationships.  So many prisons.

And we’re told that the Good News releases us, yet so many continue to stay in their cells because…well, because it’s familiar and going out of the cell is scary.  We aren’t in control anymore.

Yet we are called out of our cells, set free – free to follow and to serve.

Come out.  It’s time to be free.