Thursday, April 5, 2007

My Name is Onesimus 3

(Read Part 1 and Part 2 first)

What a strange reaction to my heart felt plea. I wanted to say more but they just kept laughing. I knew they were not laughing at me. It was like I had missed out on some fantastic joke. Was I the only one present who could not understand? They saw my bewilderment and yet they laughed and laughed. Tears were streaming down their faces. Paul made his way over to me and wrapped his arms around me. From the very depths of his being he laughed as he hugged me.

Once more I felt an indescribable power even more intense than my first encounter with Paul at his door. I wrapped my arms around Paul and hugged him back, though I knew not why. My mind was realing but inside me something broke forth in laughter. It was just so contagious and yet something deeper, something which I had never experienced in all of my days.

How long were we in such a state, I do not know? And then a quietness swept over our gathering. I couldn’t speak… it was… it was… no words can describe the feeling I felt. One of the men began to sing and then another joined in. I didn’t understand the language. I didn’t need to. It was beautiful. I could bathe in the song of these men. If this was the time of my last breath, I knew I could die a contented man.

And then it was over. Each man hugged passionately and bid farewell. It was too precious to speak.

What was this kingdom that these men were joining forces for? I wanted to join and yet they gave no indication of how or where or when or even why. I so desperately wanted answers but Paul simply directed me to his cot and extinguished the lamps. I do not know whether I slept that night but I do know that I remained in a place of total contentment.

Another day has dawned, how could I have slept so late. Paul saw me stirring and called me to breakfast. He had a wonderful feast of porridge and fruit prepared for us. I should have been ashamed that this man was serving me once more. But even then I could not find the shame. Paul’s eyes twinkled as we enjoyed our meal together.

Paul then asked me if I could do him a favor. He said he had three letters he needed delivered to people around the city. Would I be willing to take them for him. I still did understand what was going on and yet I so wanted to serve this precious man. Of course, I would deliver his letters. Why he trusted me was a question that perplexed my very soul. I knew he was a man who saw beyond the natural. How could he not know that I was such a scoundrel?

My day was full delivering Paul’s letters. When I explained that these were letters from Paul, the people welcomed me with such genuine care. I had never had my stomach so full as they would never let me leave without sharing food with them. They all seemed to have this inner joy but still no one told me why. They talked of the dead man, Jesus, as if he was alive but I knew for sure that he had been crucified.

It confused me somewhat, that they did not talk more of their leader, Paul. Perhaps this was the greater genius of their strange insurrection. They pointed to a dead man as their leader, therefore no one living could be held accountable. No, that couldn’t be it. What were they trying to say?

I finally made it back to Paul near the end of the day. More soup and bread was offered to me but I told Paul I had been too well fed to eat another morsel. He laughed and poured some wine. When would he let me know the secrets of this society? I wanted to ask but somehow the words would not come out of my mouth.

He pointed me to his cot once again and invited me to rest. He said he had one more errand for me to attend to this evening and wanted me to be refreshed. No one ever gave it a thought as to whether I was tired and yet Paul could sense it even before I gave it a thought. Tears flowed down my face as I lay on this strange man’s bed.

When I awoke, we had tea together and Paul told how wonderful it was to have someone to help him with his mission. He gave me instructions to go to a certain part of the city to deliver another letter. What did he mean that I was helping him? My head was confused beyond measure but my heart was full. Off to the house that Paul had directed me to.

What a foolish mission Paul has sent me on. The house is in the richest areas of Rome. Back in Colosse the best homes were not nearly as grand as this one. Why would Paul be so specific about my knocking on the front door? I knew my place was the servants entrance. Nevertheless, if Paul said the front door, then the front door it would be. There was singing going on inside, so much so, that I had to knock three times before someone answered. I said I had a letter from Paul. They quickly had me come in and had me sit in the entrance way. I was sure that they were forming a reply to Paul as I sat listening to such sweet sounding songs of love.

To my surprise a man in costly clothes came and knelt at my feet with a basin and a pitcher. I told him I must get back to Paul. He simply quieted me and washed my feet, just as Paul had done. Was it just two days ago?

He then brought me into this fantastic home. There must have been 50 present and yet they all welcomed me with one voice of acceptance. The man who had washed my feet invited me to sit beside him. A servant girl began to speak without invitation by anyone. She told of her great love for the man, Jesus. It was so simple and yet so stirring. Then a man opened the letter from Paul and began to read.

"I, Paul, just wanted you to know how content I am, knowing of your great love for each other and for your love for our Saviour, Jesus the Christ. My friend, Onesimus, has been such a welcomed addition to my humble residence…"

My name was being spoken in front of this gathering. I didn’t hear the rest of the letter as I was so shocked at the hearing of my name. Did he really call me friend? It was a short letter and then someone prayed for grace to be on their brother, Paul.

The man I was sitting next to, began to speak. He revealed how he had sought after power and possessions with ruthless cruelty. I was now afraid as I realized that this man was of such high rank within Rome, itself. But hadn’t he just washed my feet? Questions, questions, questions. The more I heard, the less I understood.

The man continued with his story of how Paul had talked to him of a kingdom that could not be made by the hands of men. A kingdom of love and power and a sound mind. He said at first he was jealous of Paul’s words because he knew deep inside, that he had nothing like that. He had acquired wealth and fame and yet felt as empty as a stalk of corn after harvest time.

He then said something that jolted me. He said now he was the happiest man on earth because this Jesus who had been crucified, had risen from the dead. This powerful man was declaring that this dead man, Jesus, was alive and had become his king.

All day I had been hearing of a kingdom and a dead man Jesus. Yes, people had been speaking of him as if he was present but I thought that that was just a way of speaking. Now, I was being confronted with something that I knew was impossible. I wanted him to keep speaking but he stopped and passed me some cheese and bread to eat.

What madness was I experiencing? I wanted to join an insurrection. These people wanted to talk about a dead man, being alive. Someone else was speaking but I was truly lost. Singing began again and this quieted me somewhat. And then the thing I had experienced the night before happened again. Someone had begun to laugh, soon after others were laughing as well. I couldn’t help but join in. I had experienced this with a few men the night before but with 50 people it was something else. If this was not the house of such a powerful man, I’m sure they would have been arrested for rioting.

I left to return to Paul with a deep joy but also with a fierce determination to have my questions answered. When I got to Paul’s house, he was writing another letter. He asked me about my evening. I detailed what had taken place. Paul was practically dancing and hugged me again, thanking me for helping him so much. I was trying desperately to form my questions but my mouth would not speak. Paul simply looked at me and said that tomorrow I would understand everything. He blew out the lamps and I laid down in expectation of what, I did not know.

Click here for Part 4.

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