Joel and Miriam, the host and hostess, had owned a liquor store before retiring and had a large bar for their guests. We had built a relationship over several years with Joel and Miriam and were honored to be invited to Miriam’s 80th birthday party.
Kris and I made our way from the smoky living room to the dining room. We met a man dressed completely in simple black sitting at the dining room table who stood out from the other party-goers. Actually, Kris and I stood out more than he did. We were the only Gentiles and about 55 years younger than most of the guests, while he was their beloved rabbi.
One quiet afternoon, several months later, I sat at that same table with Miriam and Joel. . As I simply related the beautiful Christmas story, Miriam lit a cigarette, her face deeply furrowed with wrinkles from age and from smoking.
“I never heard this before,” Miriam exclaimed.
I was amazed to think of someone living in America for 80 years and never hearing about Jesus’ virgin birth. They were open to hearing everything. So, I told Joel and Miriam about the birth, life, and death of their Messiah and explained the Gospel.
Miriam died two years later, not of lung cancer or problems from drinking, but simply because it was her time.
Seated in the back row of folding chairs in a mausoleum, I listened to her rabbi talk about her good life. He never offered hope for eternal life.
I don’t know if we will sit around a heavenly table and renew our friendship or stroll through the New Jerusalem together and admire the city adorned with jewels. I will be delighted if I see them there!