Shifra was frightened, but her need to meet with fellow believers was greater than her fear, and she sighed with relief when she safely reached Miryam’s house.
“Oh, Lord, have mercy!” Shifra cowered against the wall when she saw a group of Roman soldiers walking towards her. She was sure they were going to arrest her.
But they passed her by, as if they didn’t see her.
With trembling hand she knocked at the gate. A little window opened.
“Rhoda, it’s me, Shifra,” she whispered and entered quickly.
The door was immediately bolted behind her.
“Shalom Shifra, welcome!” Miryam kissed her.
“Aleichem Shalom, everyone!” Shifra looked around the room. By the flickering light of the oil lamps she noticed a worried looking Jochanan Markus in deep discussion with some of the elders.
“Any news about Kefa?” she asked.
Eyes blazing, Miryam shook her head. “That wicked Herod! Nobody’s allowed to visit him. They say his trial will be held after the Feast.”
“Brothers and sisters!” Yochanan stood up. “We’re all sad because of our brother, Kefa, for whom we will pray later. Let’s begin with thanksgiving. Although we don’t feel like celebrating, we mustn’t forget it’s Pesach.”
Still a young believer, Shifra didn’t know all the songs, but the beautiful words of the Psalms soothed her worried and frightened soul.
“This is the bread of the Covenant,” Yochanan said, held up a piece of unleavened bread and broke it. “Yeshua told us to eat it in remembrance of his sacrifice for us. Likewise, we may drink of the cup of Salvation.” He lifted the wine cup, which the believers then shared.
Women helped Miryam bring in bowls of stew and soon everyone was engaged in lively conversations.
Shifra’s empty stomach rumbled loudly. Miryam looked at her. “Did you eat today?”
Shifra shook her head.
“You sit down and eat! You must learn to ask for help, Shifra!” She touched her shoulder. ”We share what we have, and there should be no needs amongst the believers.”
“It’s humiliating to ask for help.” Shifra said.
“I know, but you shouldn’t go hungry. What else do you need?”
Shifra hesitated. It seemed so selfish. “My sandals are completely worn. I can’t afford to buy new ones.” She didn’t dare look Miryam in the eyes.
“That’s all?” Miryam laughed and walked towards her son. “Yochanan! Can you give our dear Shifra a shekel? She needs new sandals.”
He immediately went to a chest and handed her two shekels. “God be praised!” Shifra looked in wonder at the coins in her hand.
The warm meal not only strengthened her body, but being together with fellow believers, warmed and fed her hungry soul as well.
Yochanan spoke from Isaiah’s scroll, which solicited many questions and remarks, ending with a discussion about why so few people believed in Yeshua ha Mashiah.
“They will know we are believers by our love.” Yochanan said. “We must be a shining light in these dark times.”
He covered his head with his shawl. “Let’s pray for our brother Kefa. This night, throughout Jerusalem, believers are asking God to perform a miracle.”
He looked around the room and lifted his hands.
“Our Father, in heaven; thank you that we can celebrate this Pesach together with our brothers and sisters. Thank you for the miracle of leading your People out of Egyptian bondage. Lord, tonight we need a similar miracle for our brother Kefa.”
“Amen!” resounded throughout the room.
Being one in the Spirit, the prayers and supplications of those in the room rose and swelled like the waves of the sea.
Around midnight, Rhoda ran into the room and yelled,
“Kefa is standing in front of the gate!”
“What? You are crazy!” Annoyed, Yochanan stood up.
Those who had been half asleep were wide awake now.
“No, really! It’s Kefa!” Smiling brightly, Rhoda was adamant.
“It must be his angel,” someone said and everyone started talking at once.
But when the knocking continued, Shifra jumped up and opened the door.
Talking loudly, everyone crowded around their answered prayer. Kefa told them to be quiet and shared what happened to him. He grabbed a piece of matzah and said,
“I won’t endanger you all by staying here.” He looked at Yochanan. “Tell Ja’akov and the others, I’ll leave for another place.”
At sunrise, Shifra walked home with a new spring in her step and the promise of new sandals jingling in her pouch.
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