The brand new pastor and his wife newly assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church that was in need of repair in every way. They arrived in mid-October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church it was more rundown than they had expected. 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 they were ahead of schedule and yes just about finished. On Dec 19 a terrible tempest, a driving rainstorm with high winds hit the area and lasted for two full 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 six feet by eight feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit. The pastor started to clean up the mess, and not knowing what else to do he postponed the Christmas Eve service and dead tired he headed home.
On the way home he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for a local charity—so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful handmade ivory colored crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and believe it or not a fine colored cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front altar wall .He had just enough money so 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 seeing this invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus about forty-five minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, some hangers, etc. and put up the beautiful tablecloth on 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 white as a sheet. “Pastor”, she asked, “Where did you get that tablecloth?” The pastor explained the story to her. 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 said that she had made this tablecloth forty-five years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor retold her 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 their 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 town and was only in this area for the day doing a housecleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the Christmas 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 just stared, 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 in the world could there be two tablecloths so much alike. He then told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again, all those forty-five years ago.
The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove across town 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.
P.S. Who ever said that God does not work in mysterious ways? Have a Blessed day.