The Cobbler and His House Guest ~ Anchored In Him ~ Christmas 2014


There lived in the city of Marseilles, a hundred years ago,
an old shoemaker, loved and honored by all his neighbors,
who affectionately called him "Father Martin." 

One Christmas he sat alone in his little shop, reading of the
visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus, and of the gifts
they brought, and he said to himself, "If tomorrow were the
first Christmas, and if Jesus were to be born in Marseilles
this night, I know what I would give him!" He arose and took
from a shelf two little shoes of softest snow-white leather,
with bright silver buckles. "I would give him these, my
finest work. How pleased his mother would be! But I'm a
foolish old man," he thought, smiling. "The Master has no
need of my poor gifts."

Replacing the shoes, he blew out the candle and retired to rest.
Hardly had he closed his eyes, it seemed when he heard a
voice call his name. "Martin!" Intuitively, he felt aware
of the identity of the speaker. "Martin, you have longed to
see me. Tomorrow I shall pass by your window. If you see
me and bid me enter, I shall be your guest and sit at your table."

He did not sleep that night for joy. Before it was yet dawn,
he arose and tidied up his little shop. Fresh sand he spread
on the floor, and green boughs of fir he wreathed along the
rafters. On the table he placed a loaf of white bread, a jar
of honey, a pitcher of milk; and over the fire he hung a hot
drink. His simple preparations were complete.

When all was in readiness, he took up his vigil at the window.
He was sure he would know the Master. As he watched the
driving sleet and rain in the cold, deserted street, he thought
of the joy that would be his when he sat down and broke bread
with his guest.

Presently, he saw an old street sweeper pass by, blowing upon
his thin, gnarled hands to warm them. Poor fellow! He must be
half frozen, thought Martin. Opening the door, he called out to
him, "Come in, my friend, and get warm, and drink something hot."
No further urging was needed, and the man gratefully accepted
the invitation.

An hour passed, and Martin next saw a poor, miserably clothed
woman carrying a baby. She paused, wearily, to rest in the
shelter of his doorway. Quickly, he flung open the door.
"Come in and get warm while you rest," he said to her.
"You are not well?" he asked.

"I am going to the hospital. I hope they will take me and my
baby in," she explained. "My husband is at sea, and I am ill,
without a soul to whom I can go."

"Poor child!" cried the old man. "You must eat something while
you are getting warm. No? Let me give a cup of milk to the
little one. Ah! What a bright, pretty little fellow he is! Why,
you have no shoes on him!"

"I have no shoes for him," sighed the mother.

"Then he shall have this lovely pair I finished yesterday."
And Marten took down the soft little snow-white shoes he had
looked at the evening before, and slipped them on the child's feet.
They fit perfectly. Shortly, the young mother went her way full
of gratitude, and Martin went back to his post at the window.

Hour after hour went by, and many needy souls shared the meager
hospitality of the old cobbler, but the expected guest did not

At last, when night had fallen, Father Martin retired to his cot
with a heavy heart. "It was only a dream," he sighed. "I did hope
and believe, but He has not come."

Suddenly, so it seemed to his weary eyes, the room was flooded
with a glorious light; and to the cobbler's astonished vision there
appeared before him, one by one, the poor street sweeper, the sick
mother and her baby, and all the people whom he had aided during
the day. Each one smiled at him and said, "Have you not seen me?
Did I not sit at your table?" and vanished.

Then softly out of the silence he heard again the gentle voice,
repeating the old, familiar words, "Who so shall receive on such
little child in my name receiveth me" Matthew 18:5
"For I was hungered, and you gave me meat; I was thirsty, and
you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in."
Matthew 25:35

A Yuletide Legend, by Anne MuCollum Boyles

Only God can still our hearts and our minds . . .

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