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GOD'S WILL AND THE TABLECLOTH


It happened in 1948, just a few days before Christmas. A flash flood ravaged a small town, leaving a gaping hole in the wall of an old church building--right behind the pulpit. The young pastor knew there was no time to fix the damage and decided to make the best of it. But providence was in his favour. The next day he stumbled upon an old lace tablecloth at an auction and bought it for $6.50. His intent was to hang it on the wall to cover the hole--not perfect, but adequate for the occasion.


The next day, while unlocking the building, he noticed an elderly woman on the curb and invited her to come inside for warmth. She nestled into a comfortable pew while he set to work covering the hole. She gasped as he unfolded the worn tablecloth. "That's mine," she exclaimed. "It's my banquet cloth!" And she rushed to the front to show him her initials engraved in one corner. The minister listened as she retold the story of her days in Vienna, Austria, before the war. She fled from the Nazis, but her husband was captured for crimes of treason. She hadn't seen him since. Although the minister offered her the cloth, she refused. It looked pretty hanging behind the altar, the woman insisted.


After the Christmas service the following Sunday morning, an aging gentleman lingered behind to talk with the young pastor. The cloth behind the pulpit brought back painful memories for him. "Many years ago my wife and I owned such a tablecloth," he told the pastor. "We lived in Vienna then." Something told the pastor that this was more than coincidence, so he took the man with him to seek out the woman. Calls were made, and before long the two men were standing on the front steps of her apartment. As the woman opened the door, the young pastor witnessed a reunion more touching than he ever imagined possible--a husband and wife, together again after years of separation.

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