This the time of the year when we really want to read good news, and there especially has not been much of it this season. This story came to me in a packet of good stuff along with a holiday greeting. It is just too good to keep to myself, so I am passing it along. This was attributed to Porcupine Press, Chatham, Mich., titled "The New Pastor and the Tablecloth."

"A pastor and his wife, assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, N.Y., arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was rundown and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have the first service on Christmas Eve.

"They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting and fixing the lighting system. On Dec. 18, they were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

"On Dec. 19, a terrible tempest with a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted two days. On Dec. 21, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked. A large area of plaster about 10 feet by six feet had fallen 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 a local business having a flea market sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items offered was a beautiful ivory hand-crocheted tablecloth. It was exquisitely embroidered with fine colors, and a cross was placed at the center. It was just the right size to cover 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 church for the next bus. She sat in a back pew and watched the pastor while he got a ladder and hangers to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. When finished, the pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked, and it covered the entire problem area.

"Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was as white as 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 woman's initials. She had made this tablecloth many years before, in Austria.

"The woman could hardly believe the pastor as he told her how he had gotten the tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war, she and her husband had a lovely home in an Austrian city. When the Nazi soldiers came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was to follow her the next week, but he was captured and sent to prison. She never saw her husband or her home again.

"The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth, but the woman made him 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 house-cleaning 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. Many said they would return.

"One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare. The pastor wondered why the man wasn't leaving. Then the man asked the pastor where he got the tablecloth hanging on the wall. He said it was identical to one his wife had made many years ago when they lived in Austria before the war. 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 how he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in prison. He had never seen his wife or his home again.

"The pastor asked the old man if he would be willing to take a little ride. They drove to Staten Island to the building where he had taken the woman just three days earlier. The pastor helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment. He knocked on the door, and the door opened. And at that moment, in that tiny apartment, the pastor witnessed the greatest Christmas miracle he could ever have imagined!"

There are Christmas miracles all around. Sometimes we just need to stop, watch and listen. And sometimes to make them happen.