‘Gesundheit!’ says Peter, after I sneeze. It must be the dusty evening Jerusalem air. We are sat in a busy tavern, ready for a quick bite to eat.
‘You’ll have to forgive me,’ Peter says in perfect English, ‘I’m only having a quick drink. I’ve already had food today at John’s. And Mary’s. And Luke’s. And don’t order the fish; it’s rubbish here.’
A man comes up behind him and slaps him on the back.
‘CLEOPAS!’ shouts Peter, ‘Sit with us lad, there’s always room for more!’
I squeeze up further, already tightly squashed in between Roman soldiers, Jewish traders, travellers and pilgrims.
‘It’s a bit busy, isn’t it?’ I ask.
‘Not as busy as last week, eh?’ Peter says, without reducing his volume at all, and his neighbour grins.
‘Did you see the crowds last week?’ Cleopas asks, his accent less provincial and his voice more restrained.
‘I wasn’t here, tell me- ’ I start, but Peter is already off again, a big man with a big voice.
‘Last week! How could you have missed it?’ he yells, incredulous. ‘All that NOISE? All those PEOPLE?’
‘At the festival, right?’ I interrupt.
‘Yes, yes, lots of visitors in town. Mad crowds we get here, don’t we?’
Cleopas nods, wisely keeping his mouth shut.
‘Only this year was different. SOOOO different,’ and Peter rolls his eyes. ‘My teacher, my friend, Jesus (he’s from up north like me, except – you know), he brought the lot of us here about eight or nine weeks ago. And they killed him. CRUCIFIED him. We didn’t understand it. Only it all made sense three days later. All the times the prophets had talked about him, and we never saw it until we saw his empty tomb. His hands and feet. He was ALIVE! Cleopas saw him and all, didn’t you?’
‘And last week, after he’d gone to his Father, we were all indoors, and we heard the most massive WHOOOOOSH and flames in the room; proper frightening. Flames on our heads! But all safe, like that burning bush, eh?’
‘That’s when I learnt English,’ Peter jokes. ‘And outside – I’m not kidding – folk were gathering from all over. But this was proper mad: they ALL heard us in their first language! God’s Spirit had come in a big, big way. So many new folk following God. AMAZING!’
Lucy Marfleet is a writer and educator who tries to tell the truth in imaginative ways. She has degrees in Theology and Biblical Studies and has worked in schools and prisons. Lucy lives with her husband and two children near Cambridge and blogs at www.lucymarfleet.com. Follow her on Twitter @lucymarfleet