This Christmas my church offered only one Christmas Eve service, at eleven pm. I am not a night owl and any event, church or party, starting later than seven pm is a challenge for me. With an abundance of churches in our area, I began an on line search for a Christmas morning service. I found a church offering a 10:30 am service only six miles from the house. Not a bad commute. I used to drive much further than that to attend church. However, there was one little flaw in this plan. Attending services at a church other than mine meant sitting in an unfamiliar church, with an unfamiliar congregation and minister, alone, on Christmas.
My resolve to attend wavered. After a moment of prayer, I decided it was important I attend, regardless of how odd, or sad it would make me feel. I pulled on my coat of Courage and Trust, and went.
The church parking lot was almost empty. Was the web sight wrong and there wasn't a 10:30 service? Well, there were a few other cars..... I grabbed my purse, got out of the car and resolutely headed toward the front doors. As I passed a car parked in the handicapped spot, the occupant, and older woman, leaned out. "They are having a 10:30 service, aren't they?"
"As far as I know. At least the web site said there was. However, this is my first visit, and so I am not entirely sure, but thought I would try the door."
The woman smiled. "Well, I'm fairly new as well. I'll follow you, and if you would like, we could sit together."
"I would like that."
There was indeed a service. About ten other attendees were scattered about the small sanctuary. My companion led me to a pew much closer to the front than I am comfortable with. (I prefer the anonymity of the last row. ) Prior to the service, the minister moved from pew to pew, personally welcome every attendee, including me. His words of welcome touched my heart.
The celebration was simple, elegant and stirring, and with my companion beside me, I felt welcomed, and at home.
After the service, Carol gave me a huge hug and invited me back. The minister also extended a personal invitation to return next Sunday.
I thank God for my unexpected Christmas gift. Carol will never know what a difference her simple act of kindness made. I am taking this beautiful lesson to heart, and asking God to help me be a doer of small, yet mighty, things.