Based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy
Once upon a time there was a cobbler, a good and honorable man. One Christmas Eve he dreamed that the next day, on Christmas, Christ was coming to his humble shop. Christmas morning he got up early and went to the woods to gather green boughs to decorate his shop for so great a Guest. He laid out a fine woolen cape and some blankets to give to the Lord. He lit a fire and set out bread and meat, and put the kettle on to boil.
All morning he waited, then a feeble old man came to his door asking to rest. The cobbler invited him in to sit and rest by the fire where he gave the old man hot tea and cakes. When he left, the cobbler gave him a package of his best bread and meat.
The day became afternoon. He saw a wounded soldier; his feet wrapped in bloody rags, limping slowly down the street. The cobbler called and invited him into his shop. He bathed the soldier’s feet, wrapping them in clean cloth. He then gave the grateful soldier the sturdiest shoes in the shop. When the soldier left, there was a new strength in his step.
As evening approached, the cobbler became discouraged. Just then a young woman walked by shivering and crying, carrying a baby in her arms. The cobbler called to her asking what was wrong.
“Oh, sir,” she said, “My husband died of the fever so I couldn’t pay the rent. The landlord put us out of our home and I’m traveling to the next town to stay with my husband’s parents. But it’s so far, I’m so hungry, and my baby is so cold.”
The cobbler brought her in to share his dinner with her. He took the woolen cape and the blankets he had set aside for the Christ and gave them to the woman to keep her and the baby warm. Then, he hitched up his horse and cart and drove the woman to the next town.
It was very late and Christmas was over when he finally got home. Sure that he had missed the Christ he cried out, “Why, Lord? Why did you not come? Was I so unworthy?”
He sank to his knees in tears. Then it seemed he heard a Voice, sweeter than any other: “My child, I kept my word. Three times I visited you and three times you showed your love for Me. I was the old man; I was the poor soldier; I was the cold and hungry woman and her baby. You warmed Me at your fire. You bandaged My wounded feet. You fed Me and clothed Me. Did I not say, ‘Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, you do it to Me.’”