The Tablecloth: 

A  Christmas Surprise

--By Pastor Rob Reid

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 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 19th 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 housecleaning 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 35years 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 Who says God does not work in 
 mysterious ways. 

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