For Holy Week 2019, the Chapel presented a series of first-person narratives, called “Were You There,” from the perspective of different characters. This one, The Repentant Thief and Jesus on Death Row, was written and presented by Kelly Rayner for Thursday Morning Prayer, April 18, 2019.

Oh God…

Do you hear me?

I sit in this lonely cell, separated from the world outside.

I am cold Lord.  And scared. I put on a tough face when other people walk past, or the guards stop to give me my meal.  But God. It gets lonely.

I do not know if you listen to me.  I am a thief after all.

I have sinned all my life.

Surely you have turned away…

God I see clearly now my mistakes

I see the pain I caused.

When I was made up of drugs

I recognize the scars I hid

And how much I ran

Chasing a buzz

And a high that I wished wouldn’t end

But here I am,

A prisoner of my own making

Lost in a system.

My voice missing

God…

I was so angry

I wanted to shake my fist

Like Jonah I ran

And was swallowed by a fish

I let others tell me

What I needed to be

But look at me now.

I want to cry

For others to see me

I want to show, who I can be

God I wish I had a second chance…

 

They say a man has come

And let himself be led

To a cell

On death row

A pit from which there is no return

I know now that I deserve this fate for what I have done

But I cannot see God

Why this person is here

They do not deserve the punishment here.

 

Today is the day

They led me in chains

In handcuffs so heavy

I barely can shuffle

My head cast down.

God, I don’t know if you hear me

But I thought I would try again

I am not worthy of saving

But the one they call Jesus

They have done no wrong

They do not deserve this fate

 

I see them for the briefest moment

And I want to cry

They look at me with the gentlest look

And for once I felt human again

I started to weep for this man I barely new

And for the life that was about to end.

I started to go weak in the knees and called out

I know I shouldn’t

But I begged them

Remember me when they get to Heaven

 

It is a short walk from there

We get to the rooms.

It is a special day the news says

3 executions

all in one day

I am directed to lay down

On a table I am exposed

My eyes stare upward

My arms outstretched, straps every couple inches so they can’t move

My heart hurts.

Not for myself though

But for the man I know is just a room over

Wrongly convicted but willing to be put to death

For the needs of the people

God…

I still do not understand everything

But I am done running now

And maybe

Just maybe

I can walk the road back to you now.

 

Sources:

https://www.sisterhelen.org/finding-christ-on-death-row/

https://www.ozy.com/true-story/i-watched-people-die-on-death-row/83607

https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Death-Row-American-Punishment/dp/0687647568

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/june/pamela-perillo-salvation-death-row.html

Print Friendly, PDF & Email