Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

The Tablecloth

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

16th May 2010

I recently came across the following, which I believe is a true story:

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to his first pastorate, arrived in suburban Brooklyn in early October excited about their opportunity to reopen a church. 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, and whatnot. On December 18th they were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19th a terrible tempest —a driving rainstorm— hit the area and lasted for 2 days. On the 21st, the pastor went to the church. His heart sank when he saw 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, he headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he dropped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory-coloured, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colours and a cross embroidered right in the centre. 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 warmth of the 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 and hangers to put the tablecloth up 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 centre 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 the tablecloth 35 years before in Austria.

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just acquired 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 in driving her home, feeling 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 spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said they would return.

One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighbourhood, 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 had bought 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, when the Nazis came 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 in the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if the man would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island, 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 saw the greatest reunion he could ever imagine.

Isn’t that such a lovely inspiring story?

Sometimes we can wonder why God allows things to go wrong, like allowing this rainstorm to come upon the church. During those times let’s hold on to the following Scriptures:

‘So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said. But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people’. (Genesis 50:16-20)
‘For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’. (Jeremiah 29:11)
‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them’. (Romans 8:28)

Have a good week trusting in God through the storms of life.

Pastor Barry

Back to top