'No match for the winds of Spirit'
by Ginny Nilsen
From the December 2012 issue of The Christian Science Journal
In the middle of the night, it came roaring through like a locomotive at approximately 100 miles per hour. The next morning the Monrovia, California, town square was filled with grand evergreen trees lying flat on the ground, roots completely upended. The big decorated Christmas tree, with its lights and ornaments, was down for the count. Palm trees and conifers lay across sidewalks, and the evening holiday parade was cancelled until further notice. All city power was out. The Santa Ana windstorm of December 2011 had done its thing.
Our branch church in Monrovia had offered an early Christmas gift to the community and nearby towns in the San Gabriel Valley: an upcoming Christian Science lecture. We thought at the same time, we could let people know about our newly purchased building—in the process of being remodeled as our new church home.
We had rented a space at the community center for the lecture, and banners and posters were put up around town; we also distributed e-vites, newspaper and online notices—and had even given out “Save the date” refrigerator magnets months before.
And then two days before the lecture, the “Santa Anas” seemed to try to “take the wind out of our sails.” The community center, along with other churches, centers, halls—you name it—were closed up, dark and unoccupied. The police said if the park got cleared of debris in time, we could use the bandstand, but the predicted weather was going to make it too cold to sit outdoors. We scouted nearby towns for a possible venue, but the power outage was widespread, and hotels and other possible spaces were dark, too.
All this time we spent prayerfully listening for the location of the lecture that we knew would be held at its proposed time. Nothing was going to stop this God-given activity and this gift to our community.
The lecture was scheduled for a Saturday afternoon, and by late afternoon on Friday, there was no sign of progress. The lecture chair drove around all day, praying as she went, sometimes even pulling over to the curb for some consecrated quiet time to hear God’s direction. She related to us later that she thought of Joseph and Mary going from place to place looking for lodging to receive the Christ-child, all along trusting that God was providing everything needed right then—and that this provision would continue.
Then the thought came to the lecture chair, “Go to our semi-remodeled church.” Why? Go to the church that was in mid-construction? And locked up so she couldn’t even get in? But she was impelled to go, continuing to pray for divine Mind’s guidance.
What a surprise to see lights on and the contractor’s truck there! He said the power had come back on an hour before. She told him about driving around to look for a venue, and then added, “Too bad we can’t have the lecture here, now that there’s power.” With only a speaker system in the auditorium and one other room, she just didn’t know how we could pull it off. The contractor responded: “Oh, there’s a speaker system in four rooms now!”
Voila. She instantly saw how it could happen. She Googled “rental chairs,” and within a few minutes a wedding planner made 100 chairs available for the next afternoon.
Our church members showed up the morning of the lecture to vacuum up plaster dust and clean windows, furniture, and floors. A church member who’s a florist put in splashes of bright color with poinsettias, greens, and bows. The paint store across the street, the business office next door, and a hotel a block away, gave us use of their parking lots. We sent e-mails and made phone calls to everyone we could think of, letting them know of the location change. Huge plywood sandwich boards were made to redirect people from the community center to the church, and even members from other Christian Science branch churches stepped up to usher and help.
What a wonderful experience. Newcomers came, and so much enthusiasm was expressed for this lecture being held in the midst of a huge remodel. So that everyone could get an overview of what the completed project would be, we displayed floor plans and exterior design drawings in the main hallway. Most gratifying of all was the effect of our prayers in everyone’s clearly hearing and appreciating the lecturer’s presentation of spiritual, scientific ideas.
In the true spirit of Christmas, it was a forever-gift to be cherished, and to bless our outreach and healing endeavors to come.