The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a Church in urban Brooklyn, arrived in early October, excited about their opportunities. When they saw their Church, they discovered it was very run down and needed much repair work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to hold their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and by 18th December were ahead of schedule, and just about
finished. On 19 December there was a terrible tempest, and a driving rainstorm which lasted for two days hit the area. On the 21" December 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 6 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, at about head height. He cleaned up the mess on the floor, then not knowing what else he could do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, he headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type of sale for charity, so he wandered in. One of the items for sale was a beautiful, handmade, ivory
coloured, crochet table cloth; the work was exquisite with a cross embroidered in the centre in fine colours The cloth 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 and as the pastor was nearing the church he noticed an elderly woman running from the opposite direction; she was trying to catch a bus, but she missed it. He invited her to wait in the shelter of the church for the next bus due 45 minutes later. She came in and sat quietly in a pew, but paid no attention to the pastor while he fetched a ladder, hangers etc, to hang-up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. He could hardly believe how beautiful: it looked, and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the centre aisle Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor, she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor explained how he had just purchased it in a charity sale. Then the woman asked him to check the lower right comer to see if the initials, E. B. G. 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. She could hardly believe it when the pastor told her how he had just bought the tablecloth, She told him that before the War she and her husband were well-to-do people living in Austria, but when the Nazis came they were forced to leave their home. Her husband sent her away first and was planning to join her the following week. But 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 insisted that he keep it for the Church. The pastor felt that the least he could do was to drive her home. She lived on the other side of Staten Island, and had only been in Brooklyn for the day.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve! The Church was almost full, and 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 people said that they would come again. When everyone had gone, the pastor noticed that an elderly man, whom he recognised as from the
neighbourhood, continued to sit in one of the pews staring at the front of the Church, and wondering why he still sat there, approached him. The man asked him how the tablecloth on the front wall of the Church came to be there because it was identical to one that his wife had made many 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 urged his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a concentration camp. e never saw his wife or his home again for 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 her apartment, knocked on the door, and witnessed the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.