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Christmas Eve Prayer

A woman on the verge of divorce is drawn to a Christmas mass by the power of prayer.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers

The Christmas Eve service had already started by the time I pulled into the parking lot.

Good, I thought. I slipped inside while the choir was singing “Silent Night.” I kept my head down, hoping nobody would wish me a merry Christmas.

My marriage was crumbling and my life felt like a big mess.

I hadn’t even wanted to come to church, much less talk to anyone, but a nag­ging voice in my head had made me go anyway.

I made a beeline for the corner of the sanctuary. There was a pew in the back row where I knew I could be alone. Plus I could slip out as soon as the service ended. But when I got to the pew I almost groaned out loud. A woman was already sitting there!

God, if you really want me to make it through this service I’ll need your help, I thought as I sat down in the next-to-last row. Would it be possible to make me invisible?

I kept my eyes fixed firmly on the floor as the service progressed, up through the choir’s rendition of “Joy to the World.” Then came the moment I had been dreading. The minister rose, spreading his arms wide. “It’s time to greet one another,” he said.

I turned dutifully to the woman in the pew behind me and braced myself for the inevitable smile and cheerful “Merry Christmas.” But as I reached out my hand, our eyes met—and instantly I recognized the pain I saw in hers. It was the same pain I’d seen in the mirror that morning.

“Are you all right?” I asked, almost reflexively.

Struggling to hold back tears, she told me briefly about her son’s troubled marriage and her hurting grandkids, his children. I told her about my own heartache. Before the minister spoke again, we’d agreed to pray for each other.

After the service, I hugged my new friend goodbye.

“I almost didn’t come to church today,” she said. “But something drew me.”

Something had drawn me too. I’d been brought there to the one person I had needed to meet—and who had needed to meet me.

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