I just want to share with you all a true story my mom sent me a few days ago. Last Wednesday, Woodstock and other parts of ATL experienced an ice storm which created a nightmare on the roadways. Our friends back home were telling us stories of how it took them 4 hours to make a 5 mile drive. Accidents were occurring everywhere. My mom actually had to walk home from the top of the hill in our neighborhood because her Xterra started sliding and ended up sideways in the middle of the road. Anyways, below is a story about what happened that night to one of her coworkers at the highschool named Erin. It's such a beautiful story of God's love and loving our neighbors. I asked Erin if I could share it on my blog, so I am grateful she said yes, as I think it will make a mark on your day!
Merry Christmas, friends! Rather than a card this year, I want to share with you a Christmas moment. Wednesday night was a crazy experience on the roadways, as I'm sure you know. But, as the holidays seem to remind us, sometimes the best moments come out of chaos. I wrote down my thoughts below as Wednesday night unfolded . . .
So, tonight was supposed to be our Church Christmas party … a meal, games, and wrapping gifts for children in need. When the ice and sleet began at 4:00 ish, we had to make a call, but dinner was pretty much prepared already. A few of us gathered at the church to handle the gifts, and make plans for wrapping them another time, as it was clear that we all needed to get home. All activities were cancelled, and four of us left at about the same time. After an hour, none of us got more than a ½ mile from church, because of traffic at a stand still in the ice. Accidents were everywhere, and one road was iced so that traffic could not get up. No one was moving anywhere.
Jake and I decided to get out of each of our vehicles, and walk back to the church. Our minister of music, David Harrison, called Jake (the pastor) to say he was walking a mile back to the church, and was picking up folks along the way. As we ventured out of our cars and into the ice and sleet, we stopped at cars near us and said “Don’t know where you’re headed, but if you want to come inside and get warm, we’re walking up to the church. There’s food there. Come on.” Almost every stranger we met thanked us, and prepared to leave their cars on the side of the road. We had to climb the icy hill to the church. A young mom, her son, and I held hands as we slipped up the hill.
Once we got inside, the meal was waiting for us. We began taking the Wednesday night supper out of the fridge; most of it was still warm. Jake stayed upstairs, welcoming half-frozen people inside. We made hot chocolate. We ate a glorious meal of ham, potato casserole, veggies, and warm rolls. People kept piling inside. About 70 strangers, ended up sharing a meal and getting to know one another.
The best surprise was that one group of folks from the road were a group of teens heading to dress rehearsal for “The Nutcracker.” So, after we all ate and warmed up, the kids put on a live performance of the ballet in the fellowship hall. It was wonderful! Judy Brandon searched the pantry and found ingredients for a cake . .. she and several moms – strangers before tonight – baked a cake together. Kids and teenagers made themselves at home, having fun like they had been at this church all their lives. This has turned out to be one of the best Christmas parties I’ve ever been a part of.
An officer stopped by the church, and filled us in on the road conditions. It was clear that no one needed to be traveling until things thaw in the morning. So, we decided it was time for phase two of the party. We set up the screen and projector in the sanctuary, let the kids fill the center aisle and showed the Charlie Brown Christmas movie. Adults spread out on the pews. Most of them are drifting off to sleep now.
The church is warm, and safe, and full of people tonight. I have so many thoughts I want to process about this night … a change of plans, welcoming strangers, offering a meal, sharing a table … but I’m pretty sure that what happened here tonight was truly the gospel. And my heart overflows with that thought.
After this amazing experience of unexpected joys, my hope for your holiday is this. . .
- unplanned parties with friends you haven’t met yet
- a hand offered to you when you slip and fall
- friends who invite you to walk alongside them on the road
- peaceful rest in the most unlikely settings
- joy that surprises you
6 months ago