Monday, December 5, 2011

A Sabbath surprise

The congregation was excited. Our associate pastor, Tom Fodi, who is an Air Force Chaplain serving in Iraq, was about to appear on screen via Skype. The anticipation swelled as the young man in the multimedia booth announced to his father Bob Hartman, the pastor, that something wasn't working. Imagine Tom's mother's disappointment as she was eagerly awaiting the sight of her only son's face and the soothing sound of his voice. Now imagine her delight when, instead of seeing him on the screen, she watched as he walked through the side door, crossed the front of the sanctuary and wrapped his arms around her!

Photo credit: KDKA

That's what happened at church yesterday morning. And I missed it. As I mentioned last week, I felt it was important to go to Manheim, PA and spend the weekend with my mom, which is where I was when this glorious moment unfolded before the eyes of my church family, who, as is apparent in the news coverage video, was squealing, screaming, sobbing, etc. to see Tom home safe again. Only a handful of people knew he was coming home, including his wife, of course, who got the news just a few days beforehand. His dad found out 10 minutes before church began, but his mother was clueless. What a moment.

For any of you who have prayed for the safety of someone they loved who was serving overseas and then finally felt their blessed embrace, you know a little bit of what yesterday felt like to the members of Emmanuel Christian Church.

We're a small congregation, and yesterday, there were close to 30 regular attenders missing. How disappointing for each and every one of us.

Click here to watch the CBS/KDKA news coverage of the homecoming surprise. Look at Carol's face. That is the face of a mother whose prayers have been answered. I can't help thinking of Jesus when I watch this ... about how His face must light up as His children come home. I look forward to someday seeing that look as He wraps His arms around me in safety and says, "Welcome Home."

Sharing my Sabbath experience with you (even though I missed this one!),



  1. !!!!I just cried!!! What a wonderful Christmas surprise :)

  2. Yes, it certainly was! At least my husband was able to be there to enjoy it.


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