In the Presence of My Enemies
Hi. My name’s Rhoda. I just have to tell you about what’s been happening here in Jerusalem. It’s just so full on wonderful! Like it’s history in the making! Nothing like this ever happened before anywhere. I’m working in Mary’s house you see. And half the church were here, and the doors were locked, and we’re praying, see. We’re praying like we never prayed before in our lives. King Herod’s gone full-on crazy and he’s killing us Christians,. Last week they took dear James, and everyone cried and cried when we heard they’d killed him. Put the sword straight through his stomach and chest they said. What for? James was just the kindest, gentlest person you could ever meet. He always used to tell me that Jesus loves me very much, even though I’m just a servant, that doesn’t matter to Him, that I’m just as important as a king. Do you believe that? Just me, as valuable as a king. Herod’s men killed darling James and we all couldn’t get over it.
Then they got Peter in the temple, and took Him away. We all panicked, I can tell you. John called everyone together in Mary’s house. They locked the door in case the guard should come, and we just prayed all night. We sang psalms, we prayed in tongues. It sounded more like there was a war going on in there.
John said we should partake of the body and the blood in Jesus’ Name, so we did. Andrew kept singing the 23rd psalm about the shadow of the valley of death and the table laid before us in the presence of our enemies, and our cup running over. I’m telling you it was surreal! No-one could sleep, so we just sang and prayed all night.
Do you know, there was this incredible peace came on us. You would never have thought, at three o’clock in the morning, that anything was wrong. We all broke out in tongues and started getting what Peter used to call drunk in the spirit, laughing and rolling all over the floor. Then we’d think of Peter’s raucous laugh and go quiet for a while until someone started giggling, and then we’d be praying for Peter between guffaws,.
Then the knock at the door came. It was loud, but it took us a while to hear it because of the noise we were making. Mary was singing, and suddenly she stopped and said “Someone’s knocking. Rhoda, go and see who it is.”
I was scared, I don’t mind telling you. What if it were the soldiers? . I planned how I could manage the lock so as to open it very fast and shut it very fast again, in case it was soldiers.
“Who is it?”
The answer came back “It’s me, Peter.”
And then I rushed back in and told them,
“Hey, it’s Peter out there. It’s Peter. He’s at the door!”
It was more that I recognised his voice really, because it was still too dark to see properly.
“Who did you say it was?” spunky Mark checking.
“Peter? Come on. You’re off your rocker.”
“I’d know Peter’s voice anywhere.”
“Did you say Peter?” Mary was beginning to get the message..
Then we heard the knocking, loud and clear this time, because he was still standing there.
“Well go and open the door Rhoda.”
“Oh, sorry, Mary. Yes.” How stupid of me. I went and let him in.
“What do you mean by keeping me out in the cold?” he asked me, but he was beaming that wonderful whiskery grin that spreads from his mouth to his eyes which get all twinkly, and then to the brown wrinkles that all the fishermen get. The whole place was in a daze, laughing and crying, and hugging and feeding him.
He told us an amazing story about an angel who came and woke him up, and told him to put his gear on. He thought he was dreaming, but he did it, and they walked out right past the sleeping guards. The iron gate opened in front of them and down the street the angel disappeared. When Peter got the hang of being free, he came here.
We told him about our night of prayer, and the sudden peace.
“I’ve got it!” announced Mark. We felt the peace when the angel reached the prison and you walked out!”
Majesty crowned the new day!
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