Happenings, News

The legend of the child

Christmas reminds us of our Christian duty to be sensitive to the needs of the poor, the lonely and those seeking liberation in all its manifestations.

homepage3-Dec 2004

IT WAS Christmas Eve, and the streets of the city were crowded with happy fathers, mothers and children. Their faces were bright and smiling and their arms were loaded down with mysterious bundles.

It was a cold rainy night but the streets were all the brighter for the streams of light reflected on the wet pavements. The rain sparkled and flashed as it fell, echoing the gay laughter of children.

There was one little child who wandered alone through the streets. He was hungry and cold and wet, and looked wistfully at the happy children. He trudged on through the steady pouring of the rain.

At the sound of merry laughter he crept to the window of one house after another. He knocked and waited. Some children came to the door. “I am so hungry,” said the child.

The children were thoughtless. “Go away, we are having a party and you are not invited!”

The child turned away. He walked a long time before daring to stop at another door. He heard voices inside. Softly he knocked, but they did not hear. He knocked more loudly. Heavy footsteps approached. A big man opened the door and glared down at the shrinking child. “What do you want?” he growled.

The child was frightened and ran as fast as he could down the dark muddy street. “Oh!” he sobbed as he ran, “I am so hungry and cold.” Soon he noticed a tiny flickering star beckoning to him through the rain.

IN A little house in the poorer part of the city a mother and her two children were getting ready for Christmas. Though the room was bare, a fire was burning on the hearth. The children were making chains and cutting silver stars to hang on their Christmas tree.

“Oh mother,” said the little girl, “we almost forgot! We must put our candle in the window. It is so dark and cold and rainy; perhaps some one will need its light?” So they lighted their Christmas candle and set it in the window.

“Now tell us our Christmas story, mother,” said the little boy, climbing into her arms as she sat before the fire. They listened happily as she told them about the baby of Bethlehem.

Just then there was a sound outside. “Mother, I think there is someone at the door.”

“It must be a branch scraping against the window pane,” answered the mother, and went on with her story.

“Mother, I am sure it is someone at the door,” said the little girl. “We will see,” answered her mother, as she put the little boy down. “It is too wet and cold outside to keep anyone waiting.”

Throwing open the door they found a little child who had fallen on the steps and was weak and shivering. The mother picked him up tenderly in her arms and carried him in to the fire. “Poor little child, you are all wet and cold,” she said and wrapped him in a warm blanket. The little girl rubbed his cold hands and feet while her brother ran to get a cup of milk. The child smiled at them and soon felt warm and happy.

“Oh, mother! Let us trim the Christmas tree,” cried the children, “so we can see our lovely silver stars.” They made their little guest comfortable beside the fire and beside themselves with the tree.

Suddenly, the room was filled with a mysterious light. They turned in surprise. A roseate star gleamed above the head of the child. As they looked his tattered garments changed to shining white. The walls and ceiling of their bare room seemed to open out until they felt as if they were in a vast cathedral. The child stretched out his hands to them and smiled.

“Inasmuch,” he said softly, “Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least …” and as they looked, wondering, he faded from their sight into a soft radiance. The star dwindled until they saw it gleaming as the twinkling light of their Christmas candle in the window.

“Mother,” whispered the children, “was it the Christ Child?”

“It must have been,” answered the mother as she kissed them tenderly. — Author unknown, adapted by Emily Powell Mayer. Methodist Message Dec 1925, page14.

Earnest Lau, the Associate Editor of Methodist Message, is also the Archivist of The Methodist Church in Singapore.


ARE you willing —
To stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children;
To remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old;
To stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself whether you love them enough;
To bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts;
To trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you;
To make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open?

Are you willing to do these things for a day?
Then you are ready for Christmas!


Henry van Dyke (1852-1933) was an American clergyman, educator and author. He was a professor of English literature at Princeton from 1899 to 1923. in its merry splashing.