For her sermon, “An Unexpected Gift” on the first Sunday in Advent, November 29, 2015, Pastor Jana Purkis-Brash included this poem, The Story of the Christmas Guest, by Helen Steiner Rice.
Based on the story by Leo Tolstoy, it tells of the humble shopkeeper who was very eager to see Jesus. As in the scripture lesson for that day, he was like the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 64:1-9) who begged for the Messiah to appear, crying out “you have hidden your face from us.”
This contrasts with the New Testament scripture, Matthew 1:18-25, where Joseph is surprised by the news that Mary is pregnant with the son of God, a very unexpected gift.
The shopkeeper in the poem waits and waits, but the only folks who knocked at the door were a beggar, a hungry woman, and a homeless child. Let’s all be on the lookout for ways that Jesus comes to us in unexpected ways.