A Holy Ground Kind Of Evening
It was the night of the Women’s Christmas Social at church.
I invited three dear friends to go with me.
We drove in one car, ready for an evening to be together.
It was a rainy night but nothing could dampen our spirits.
We arrived and my friends remarked about how lovely the church looked.
A large Christmas tree with tiny white lights was in the center of the foyer.
Women were hanging up their coats and putting their umbrellas on the floor beneath.
There were warm greetings and hugs all around.
After giving our tickets and receiving a program, we walked downstairs to the fellowship hall.
My friends were delighted.
I shared their delight.
The room had white lights expertly strung across the ceiling of the massive room.
Large pane windows along the sides of the room had lanterns with candles on each windowsill.
The white lights along the ceiling were from a wedding that took place weeks before.
The sweet bride was there, delighted that her white lights could be used and enjoyed.
In the center of the room, Hors d’oeuvres, cheese, fruit, and delicious desserts were displayed.
There were glass beverage dispensers filled with water and lemons and punch in lovely bowls.
Tablecloths and centerpieces were on each table.
Women waited in line to get a plate of food.
We all sat down and had time to talk together before heading upstairs.
What none of us knew was that the food had only arrived a short time before.
When the caterer was late, attempts to reach them by phone were unsuccessful.
Women began to arrive a half hour before the scheduled start time.
Only water and punch were available to them.
Everyone was getting concerned that something had happened to the caterer.
Finally, forty-five minutes late, the catering van arrived near the large doors.
Many hands assisted the caterer in bringing the food inside and setting it on the center tables.
That evening, 160 women would be fed.
By God’s grace everything was simply lovely.
The catering van was not in an accident but rather an accident happened right in front of them.
They witnessed the entire thing and had to give a statement to the police.
Everyone was grateful for their safety.
After about an hour of fellowship, we were led upstairs.
A woman was going to give a dramatic reading of a small book that our pastor had written.
I was given the book as a gift and read it in one sitting.
I loved and savored every word.
It was going to be a different kind of evening.
In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, this was an evening to take a breath.
One of my three friends received the book as a gift from me last year.
I had purchased two more books for my other friends so they could read along if they chose.
I was not ready for what we were about to experience.
The little book looks at Christmas through the book of Proverbs.
Solomon’s wisdom applies to our Christmas as if he was sitting in our living rooms.
Short chapters make you laugh and cry as you find something that resonates in your heart.
The speaker was a small woman with long straight hair, tinged with gray.
The woman, who dramatically read the book, is a lecturer in biblical Hebrew at a seminary nearby.
She has recited the entire book of Jonah in the Hebrew language, dressed as Jonah himself.
She makes whatever she teaches come alive.
We heard the story of the death of her husband years before.
She actually wrote a book that chronicles that journey with God and cancer.
I was not ready for her eloquence.
I was not ready for her voice that would have made listening to the phone book a delight.
My friends and I were sitting towards the front on the side of the sanctuary.
I was surprised by something I noticed.
I saw that her flat shoes were tucked under her chair.
The speaker got up on the platform, under the lights, in her stocking feet.
She took off her shoes.
She was at home here.
She was in a room full of sisters.
She was in God’s house.
She was dressed in black pants and a black shirt; she wore a red vest.
Her stockings were black, so at first glance you would not have noticed that she was shoe-less.
The woman, who could read the phone book with excitement, made the little book come alive.
The wisdom of Solomon was woven through stories that we all could understand.
She was vulnerable and honest, at the end of her recitation, as she told us about her grief.
God walked alongside her and her children; she knew Him more fully through her sorrow.
She now has grandchildren that were born after her husband died.
The journey with God through this difficult time was precious.
The little book she read is considered a treasure that is as much for her as it is for us.
The wisdom in the Old Testament book of Proverbs is timeless.
God is present.
God met us in a little story, dramatized by a woman in stocking feet.
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21)
God has bigger plans for you than the perfect dinner. That’s why He lets things go wrong. He’s saving your appetite for the perfect eternity. He notices you smitten with this short life, feeling it slip through your fingers, trying to shake a snow-globe Christmas out of every December. The true holiday magic is reserved for heaven. Every delight down here is a mere taste and teaser. (A Better December, by Steven Estes)
A cynic may say that our speaker was in her stocking feet merely for comfort.
I beg to differ.
Her shoes were off because this was God’s house and she was invited in.
Shouldn’t we all be in our stocking feet?
If we are in Christ, and His Holy Spirit lives in us, isn’t every place we put our feet, holy?
Isn’t a trip to the mailbox a holy moment?
Isn’t the walk down the hall to feed a hungry infant holy?
Isn’t a shopping trip to the grocery store holy?
It is stocking feet for sure when we are in Christ.
We bring Him everywhere we go.
We are His hands, His feet, and His voice to a hurting world.
It is holy ground for sure.
My three friends and I met the speaker when the evening was over.
She graciously shook our hands and asked our names.
I wondered if I should I say it?
The words came out, quick and sure.
Anyone who could stand up there all evening in her stocking feet…
Well, I could easily be your friend, I told her.
She laughed a full belly laugh.
No explanations given; none needed.
It was a holy ground kind of evening.
Refresh my heart in Christ. (Philemon 1:20)
God used a little book, dramatized by a woman in stocking feet to remind me.
I said, Goodbye, noticing her shoes underneath her chair.