We watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special this weekend. It always makes me so very happy to hear them read the true Christmas story every year on TV. I love how excited my oldest daughter got this year as we watched the short little program. I know it will be a favorite tradition for her always.
One of my favorite traditions growing up was listening to my Reba McEntire Christmas cassette tape. I can tell you every word on that tape. Unfortunately it broke a few years ago, but I was overjoyed when I found the CD in a $5 bin. I now love playing those songs as I ride around in the van, and sharing my Christmas memories from my childhood with my girls. I cannot really pick a favorite off the CD. I love "Happy Birthday Jesus" and her beautiful voice singing "Silent Night". But, if I was forced to pick a favorite, it would probably be her reading the poem "The Christmas Guest". I can say it along with her word for word. And it brings tears to my eyes as I have grown up really understanding the meaning of those words. So, I am sure you have all read it or heard it, but our Christmas story for today is the beautiful poem by Helen Steiner Rice.
And they found his shop so meager and clean
Made bright with a thousand boughs of green.
And Conrad was sitting with face ashine
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine
And he 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'll wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear His step
As He nears my humble place
And I 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 a sad Christmas day
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest
This Christmas would be the dearest and best.
So he listened with only joy in his heart
And with each sound he would rise with a start
To see the Lord standing there
In answer to his earnest prayer.
So he ran to the window after hearing a sound
But all he saw on the snow-covered ground
Was a shabby beggar who's shoes were torn
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn.
But Conrad was touched and opened his door
And he said "Your feet must be frozen and sore
And 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 as Conrad noticed the time of day
He wondered what made the dear Lord so late
And how much longer he'd have to wait.
And then, he heard a knock he ran to the door
But it was only a stranger once more
A bent old woman with a shawl of black
With 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
But her voice seemed to plead "Don't send me away
Let me rest on Christmas day."
So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And asked her to sit at the table and sup
But after she left he was filled with dismay
For the hours of Christmas were slipping away.
And the Lord hadn't come as He said He would
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood
And then, in the silence he heard a cry
"Please help me, and tell me where am I!"
So again he opened his friendly door
But stood disappointed as twice before
For 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 should make the little girl glad
So he called her in and wiped her tears
And quieted 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 he said "Dear 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
And 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
Three times I found the warmth of a friend
Of all the gifts love is the best
I was honored to be your Christmas guest."
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matt 25:40