The Tablecloth (10/13/09)

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 December 18
were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On December 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.
He was captured, sent to prison, and she 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 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.