The Christmas Guest
It happened one day near December’s end
Two neighbors called on an old-time friend,
And they found his shop so meager and poor
Made bright with boughs from ceiling to floor,
And Conrad was sitting with face a-shine
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine,
And said, “Old Friends, at dawn today
When the cock was crowing the night away
The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said, ‘I am coming your guest to be!’
So I’ve been busy with feet astir
Strewing my shop with branches of fir.
The table is spread and the kettle is shined
And over the rafters the holly is twined,
And now I will wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear
His step as he nears my humble place,
Then I’ll open the door and look on His face.”
So his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
For this was the happiest day he had known.
For long since his family had passed away
And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas Day.
But he knew with the Lord as his great guest
This Christmas would be the dearest and best.
So he listened with only joy in his heart,
And with every sound he would rise with a start,
And look for the Lord to be at the door
Like the dream he had a few hours before.
So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
But all he could see on the snow-covered ground
Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn.
But Conrad was touched and went to the door
And he said, “Your feet must be frozen and sore.
I have some shoes in my shop for you
And a coat that will keep you warmer, too.”
So with grateful heart the man went away
But Conrad noticed the time of day.
He wondered what made the dear Lord so late
And how much longer he’d have to wait.
Then he heard a knock and ran to the door
But it was only a stranger once more.
A bent old lady with a shawl of black
And a bundle of kindling piled on her back.
She asked for only a place to rest
But that was reserved for Conrad’s great guest.
Yet her voice seemed to plead, “Don’t send me away
Let me rest for a while on this Christmas Day.”
So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup.
But after she left, he was filled with dismay,
For he saw that the hours were slipping away
And the Lord had not come as he said he would
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.
When out of the stillness he heard a cry,
“Please help me and tell me where am I.”
So again he opened his friendly door
And stood disappointed as twice before.
It was only a child who had wandered away
And was lost from her family on Christmas Day.
Again Conrad’s heart was heavy and sad,
But he knew he could make this little girl glad.
So he called her in and wiped her tears
And quieted all her childish fears.
Then he led her back to her home once more,
But as he entered his own darkened door,
He knew that the Lord was not coming today
For the hours of Christmas had passed away.
So he went to his room and knelt down to pray
And Conrad asked, “Lord, why did you delay?
What kept you from coming to call on me,
For I wanted so much your face to see.”
Then soft in the silence, a voice he heard,
“Lift up your head for I kept my word.
Three times my shadow crossed your floor
Three times I came to your lowly door;
For I was the beggar with bruised cold feet;
I was the woman you gave something to eat;
And I was the child on the homeless street.
Three times I knocked, three times I came in,
And each time I found the warmth of a friend.
Of all the gifts, love is the best;
I was honored to be your Christmas Guest.”