The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry,
to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited
about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very
run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything
done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.
They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc.
and on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On
Dec 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm - hit the area and lasted
for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church.
His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area
of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary
just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.
The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else
to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the
way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale
for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade,
ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and
a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size
to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back
to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from
the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it.
The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes
later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got
a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The
pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the
entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center
aisle. Her face was like a sheet.
"Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor
explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to
see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were.
These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth
35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as
the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth.
The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do
people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave.
Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured,
sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.
The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor
keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was
the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island
and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a house-cleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church
was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the
end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door
and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor
recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and
stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving.
The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because
it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived
in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much
alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to
flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested
and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all
the 35 years in between. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to
take him for a little ride.
They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had
taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three
flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he
saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.
True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid
So far, today,
I've done all right. I haven't gossiped or lost my temper.
I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, or self centered. I'm really
happy about that so far. But in a few minutes I'm going to be getting
out of bed and then I'm going to need a lot of help. Thank you!