POSTSCRIPT / December 25, 2007 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Christmas story tells of the tapestry of life

YOU probably have heard this Christmas story, credited to a Pastor Rob Reid, but it bears retelling at least to help explain that things happen for a good reason:

TEMPEST: The new pastor and his wife, just assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in October excited about opportunities. When they saw their church, very run down and in bad need of repairs, they set to finish everything in time for their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and on Dec. 18 were ahead of schedule. On Dec. 19 a terrible tempest hit the area. 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 to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary.

The pastor cleaned up the mess. Not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, he headed home. On the way he saw a flea market sale for charity and stopped in.

He spotted a beautiful handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite needlework, fine colors and a Cross embroidered in the center. It was just the right size to cover the ugly hole in the front wall. He bought it and went back to the church.

* * *

TABLECLOTH: By this time it had started to snow. An elderly woman came running from the opposite direction 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 while the pastor got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. As he stretched it over the problem area, he could hardly believe how beautiful it was!

Then he saw the woman walking briskly down the center aisle, her face grim.

“Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?”

The pastor told her.

* * *

TRADE MARK: She asked him to check the lower right corner if the initials “EBG” were crocheted into it. They were. She said those were her initials that she put into the tablecloth 35 years ago, in Austria.

The woman said that before the war, her husband and she were quite well-to-do. When the Nazis came to Austria, she was forced to leave. Her husband was to follow her after a week, but he was arrested and imprisoned. She never saw him or their home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth, but she insisted that he keep it for the church.

He offered to drive her home, the least he could do for her. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was in Brooklyn only for the day for a housecleaning job.

* * *

TRANSFIXED: The congregation had a wonderful service 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.

But one elderly man, whom the pastor had recognized, remained seated near the front. He was staring at the covered wall seemingly transfixed.

When the pastor went to him, the man asked where he got the tablecloth. The man commented that it looked exactly like the one that his wife made decades ago when they lived in Austria.

The man narrated how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and how he was supposed to follow. But he was arrested, he said, and never saw his wife again.

* * *

TOGETHER AGAIN: The pastor asked if he would consent to go with him for a short ride. They drove to Staten Island, to the same house where he had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment and knocked on the door.

The pastor then witnessed the most wondrous Christmas reunion he has seen in his life!

You might want to pass on this true Christmas story.

* * *

FEEDBACK: From Sudan, police officer Paulino Belga Jr. sent this email, one of several reactions to my Postscript of last Sunday:

“I agree 100 percent with the Nielsen report that Philippine STAR is the No. 1 broadsheet in the country. I used to be a Philippine Daily Inquirer reader. But I learned that it contributes to my hypertension. Every time I read the Inquirer, my blood pressure rises because I get angry at everything in the Philippines, even angry at being Filipino. Aside from highlighting the negative news, its editorial is also very negative, making it appear that there is nothing good in the Philippines and in Filipinos.

“When I shifted to The STAR, my outlook of the Philippines and of being Filipino started to become more positive. I don’t mean that a newspaper should publish lies to make things appear good. What I mean is it should report both the good and the bad and its opinion section should not be clouded with so much bias and prejudice.

“Through the nine months that I have been in this desolate land, I found reading the PhilSTAR in the Internet as a source of strength and inspiration.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 25, 2007)

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