First we hiked our way to town and, then we “oohed” and “ahhed” at the theater inside. (here) Then we took a quick look about at the surroundings (here) and soon headed into the slums – where almost all of our future church were living. (here and here) Then we noticed how status-y these people were. (here)
Yesterday we began a little historical fiction (here), and today that fiction continues. You kind of need yesterday’s “part one” of the story for today’s “part two” to make sense.
If you haven’t read that,
I’d go there before reading further
…The leader of the group violently shoves the wife across the room with no effort at all. Her white linen dress gets caught in a saw blade and tears. He leers at her.
The carpenter is in the back working on something and doesn’t know what’s happening – yet. But his teen-aged son isn’t about to stand for this. He defends his mother against ten men twice his size.
Soon he’s being tossed around between the thugs like a ragdoll. He’s thrown into the tools, and finally shoved outside.
Now, the carpenter hears the ruckus. He runs out, hammer in hand. He sees the torn dress, stained with more than a small amount of blood. She nods in the direction of the son in the street. He follows her signal to see his son being beaten by two of the men.
He immediately runs to help, but is bent in half by a club to the stomach.
A few hold back the wife, and the other smaller children.
Then three of them pummel the carpenter to his knees and then pin him to the ground. While the remaining men ransack the store.
“So you like this piece of wood?” Says the leader, waving the carpenter’s cross about, like a bird in the air.
The beating stops long enough for the carpenter to say, “It..is…the sign of my God…the only true God.”
“Interesting.” replies the lead thug, “and you made it with these hands?”, pointing the cross at the fingers of the carpenter which are now pinned down on the dirt floor.
Before an answer can be uttered
the base of the cross crashes down
with the force of a sledge hammer
on one hand,
then the other.
All this has happened in just a few minutes and now Roman soldiers are marching toward the commotion.
Most of the group scatters as the soldiers enter. The leader stands eye to eye with one of them. A telling glance is exchanged. He and the remaining men walk out casually, slamming the cross to the ground and breaking it in two.
None of this has been spontaneous.
The Carpenter and the teen-aged son are dragged out and arrested. No questions asked. They are paraded through the streets unceremoniously and and taken to the jail that had previously housed Paul.
But it doesn’t end there.
At the shop there is now no business at all. Any projects, whether ready for delivery or in progress were destroyed.
There were no savings back then. You lived day to day, week to week, or season to season. And now with the males gone there was no way to make money – and fines had to be paid.
Officially it is called, disturbing the peace.
The store is in ruins.
The fine line between having enough to live on – and disaster – has been crossed.
A weeping wife and four small confused children are left on the ground.
But there is more.
Please come back as the trouble in Philippi will conclude.