This weekend we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Looking back at the event on which hangs the destiny of every person who will ever live causes us to look forward to a time when Jesus will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Nevertheless, right now we live in the "abide 'til He comes" time. The story below dramatizes the way in which some early Christians chose to spend their "abiding time." I hope you enjoy it.
as retold by Lynnda Ell
Rhoda sighed. Maybe now she could sit down for longer than two minutes. The Seder meal had been long over and preparations for breaking the morning fast completed. This time of year, during the Passover celebrations, everyone had more work than usual. However, this year, the execution of James bar Zebedee and the arrest of Peter also had everyone on edge. She slid down the wall by the door at the back of the dimly lit room. Rhoda hoped that she would not fall asleep as she closed her eyes and joined the group in prayer.
Rhoda's whole body jerked when the pounding on the outer door began. She staggered to her feet and scooped up the nearest oil lamp. Stumbling across the courtyard, her heart skittered in her chest as she wondered who would come to Mary and John Mark's house in the middle of the night.
"Who's there?" Rhoda called out through the stout door.
"Open up, girl."
Rhoda stepped back at the sound of the voice she recognized as the apostle Peter's. Without unbarring the door, she whirled around and ran back to the prayer meeting.
"Peter's at the door!" she exclaimed over the sound of several people praying aloud.
"You're out of your mind," hissed one young man, shaking his head.
His friend nudged him with his elbow. "It must be his angel."
Rhoda ignored them as she gingerly stepped through the crush of people, making her way to Mary and John Mark.
"Please come. I know it's Peter."
Motioning with her hands for Rhoda to speak softly, Mary said, "Yes, yes, we will come."
Once clear of the room, they could hear the pounding on the door. John Mark quickly removed the bar and opened the latch.
"Peter!" Mary exclaimed. "Come in, come in."
"Not so loud," Peter whispered. "I want to hide before sunrise, so I won't stay."
Quickly Peter told them how an angel had come to his cell, awakened him, removed his chains, told him to dress and then escorted him out of the prison, down the street and finally disappeared.
Peter grabbed the locks of hair on both sides of his head. "I thought I was dreaming. The angel lit up the night as brightly as day, but the guards didn't see us walking right passed them. They even ignored the iron gate that opened itself."
Peter glanced over his shoulder and then turned around. "Tell James bar Joseph and the rest of the brothers what happened." He disappeared into the night.
Rhoda followed Mary and John Mark back into the prayer meeting. She no longer felt the least bit sleepy. She knew that they would pray the rest of the night for Peter's safety and she was ready to do her part. Tomorrow, the soldiers would tear the town apart looking for him. Rhoda trusted that the God who got Peter out of prison would hide him as well. Nevertheless, right now, it was time to pray.