Thursday, September 29, 2016

Enemy of the Gods 76

312 AD

Early April one day Nicholas set out for the the place along the road where they were holding their assemblies. A steady drizzle was coming down, enough to make mud stick to the sandals from the dirty pavement stones—a welcome rain after a dry winter, but not enough to make much of a difference to the crops in the field. As Nicholas filed out the main gate of Myra he noticed some soldiers were fastening a bronze plaque to the outside of the gateway. It read, “Christiani forbidden.” Nicholas felt the pit of his stomach drop. For some moments, he stared at the sign saying nothing, then he continued on his way out of the city.

When he arrived at the gathering place by the road, many had already arrived and were murmuring about the sign. He waited until the assembly had gathered, then addressed them and said, “‘Fear not.’ How often we have heard those words in the writings of the apostles and prophets. Now we must take them to heart. The leading men of the city have banished us. They threaten us with death if we stay on in our homes, so we must leave.

“But we must return one last time. They cannot round us up all in a day. It is true that they watch us now from the gate so that any of us who returns by the way he came will be arrested, but they will not know us from the other crowds entering from the north. Go around the city and enter that way. Take all the food and necessary things you can carry from your homes and gather with us at the drifter camp. We have been serving among them, now we will live among them. And as we do, pray that our Lord will bring an end to this renewed war on his name.”

The believers did as he said, scattering into the nearby hills and setting out on foot around to the north of the city. There, the few soldiers who guarded the gate seemed completely disinterested in sorting out Christiani from the crowds. Nicholas trailed behind because he had the spy behind him and did not want to endanger the others.

As he came to the gate, he paused and looked back at the spy. The off-duty soldier merely stared back and said nothing. Nicholas judged him more interested in discovering his hidden gold than enforcing the city ordinance. Nicholas headed in through the gate and the spy silently carried on behind him. With the help of some of the brothers, he retrieved the books of the apostles from his home, along with blankets, food and a few small pouches of gray denarius coins.

As the Christiani flooded out of the city again through the southern gate, the drifter camp soon grew into a ragged city in its own right.

That was the last day it rained that spring.

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