Matthew Goodrich lived in the early nineteen hundreds just outside
of London. He had a big Victorian-style house. He wasnâ€™t a rich man,
but he did have a nice house and made a good living.
He was eagerly waiting for his guests for Christmas. It was a
tradition that his guests would come for an evening meal, and then he
would invite them to stay through the holidays. Almost without
exception, everyone agreed.
The first guest to arrive was Bill, an old soldier who roamed from
town to town begging. Neva wasnâ€™t far behind. She was a gypsy whose
people had deserted her. Mark was a young man from the north, who had
come down to find work â€“ and hadnâ€™t been able to find it. A man came
who had been a soldier from some other country. No one was really able
to understand his name, so in time everyone just called him Wayne.
Finally there was Anne who was a street peddler. When Matthew found
her, she was sitting underneath a hedge. Some men had stolen all of her
goods, and she was sitting there trying to figure out what to do next.
All of these people were homeless. Every year without fail, Matthew
went out and invited homeless people to spend Christmas with him.
It all started years before when he was reading the Christmas story.
He had read it so many times, but this time something jumped out at
him. It was when the innkeeper told Joseph and Mary that there was no
room for them at the inn. This struck Matthew as being odd. â€śNo room!
How could that be? This couple was desperate. She was expecting a baby.
How could he not have room? Surely there was some place in Bethlehem he
could refer them to.â€ť Then he thought, â€śHow about the shepherds who
came later that night? Surely one of them had a friend in town who
would let them in.â€ť
Matthew said to himself, â€śIf I were the innkeeper, I would have done
something.â€ť Then he thought â€¦ he had seen a homeless man that day â€¦ and
he felt that he didnâ€™t have room for him in his house.
That is when he got the idea. He went into to town and looked for
that man. Iâ€™m not sure if he found that very man, but still, he invited
several homeless people into his home for Christmas. They had a meal,
and spent the holidays with him. Every year after that, he did the same
thing. The amazing thing was, in all those years, no one took undue
advantage of him.
Matthew found that each year was unique in itself. The people who
came eventually form into a group that had a personality of its own â€“
unlike previous years. This particular year, Bill (the old soldier that
was a beggar) had a knack for cooking. He took over the kitchen, and
said he would prepare the meal. Neva and Anna started decorating. They
found boxes of decorations in the attic and started fixing the place up.
Wayneâ€™s skills lay in the area of cleaning. He found the cleaning
supplies and went to work â€“ singing songs no one had ever heard before,
with words no one could understand. But no one complained as long as he
was doing all the cleaning.
Mark, the young man from the north, was the bashful one. With all
the hubbub going on in the house, he decided to go outside and cut
wood. He put in a good supply of wood for the holidays and beyond.
It was quite a day, and finally Bill put the food on the table. The
little family of homeless people gathered together and enjoyed a
tremendous meal. Everyone started complimenting Bill about his cooking
and how good it was. Bill was kind of embarrassed, so he started
telling stories about the old days in the army. Everyone was fascinated
with his stories about the war.
That was when Neva started telling about her life as a gypsy. She
told the others that she knew people didnâ€™t like gypsies, but it was a
wonderful culture that was rich in traditions â€“ even though they had
deserted her. As she started to tear up, Anne went over and gave her a
hug. Then she started telling how street peddlers had a culture of
their own. She said, â€śIts true that I never thought of gypsies in a
kind way, but people didnâ€™t think of us in a kind way either.â€ť She
started to tell her stories, and finally came to the point where she
By this time Neva and Anne were crying and feeling sorry for each
other. Wayne had enough of all this depressing talk. He decided to
start singing some of his national songs, and doing his traditional
military dances. Everyone laughed and clapped in rhythm.
Mark, the young man from the north, didnâ€™t say anything. He just sat
off to the side and smiled from ear to ear. Everyone wondered if he had
a wife back home, or what his situation was, but he was not given to
telling stories about himself.
Matthew ended the evening by telling the Christmas story. Bill led
the group in singing some Christmas carols. Of course Wayne had to sing
some of his traditional Christmas hymns, which no one else knew. â€” It
was all a wonderful time.
Finally, one by one, they each said good night and went up the
stairs to their room. Matthew sat next to the wood fire, which was now
a bed of red coals. This put him deep in thought. He relived the events
of the day, and thought about each person who now slept in his house.
He thought, â€ś24 hours ago, I didnâ€™t know any of these people. Now they
are like family. I have heard their stories and have come to appreciate
their unique ways and personality.â€ť
He finally banked the fire and took his lamp and started toward the
stairs to go up to his room. Suddenly he heard a loud banging on his
front door. It startled him as he jerked around and looked at the door.
His instinct told him not to answer it, so he turned to go up to his
The people outside once again knocked on the door. This time Matthew
opened the door and looked out into the night. Standing there was a
young man and a woman. The man said, â€śSir, I know it is late, but we
just arrived in town and have no place to stay. Do you have some room
for us to stay just one night? Or do you know some place where we can
Before he could even think about it, Matthew started to tell them
exactly what the innkeeper told Joseph. â€śIâ€™m sorry, but the house is
full. I donâ€™t have any â€¦â€ť He stopped when he realized what he was
The woman gave out a moan and slumped down to the ground. Matthew
could now see she was expecting a child. He stepped out and told the
husband to help him get her into the house. Once she was in a big
chair, Matthew ran up the stairs and got Neva and Anne. He asked them
to come and care for the needs of the woman.
With all this commotion, Bill, Mark, and Wayne came out of their
rooms to see what was going on. Immediately they rushed around to help.
Bill went to he kitchen to fix some food for the couple. Mark ran to
get some wood for the fire. Wayne was almost feminine in the way he
tried to make the couple comfortable. The couple were amazed at all
these people who seem to â€ścome out of the woodworkâ€ť to help meet their
Through it all, Matthew kept thinking, â€śIn reality, I donâ€™t have any
room for this couple.â€ť Suddenly he felt a little more sympathetic for
Then he had an idea. He called Neva over and whispered something into
her ear. She smiled and grabbed Wayne. The two of them went up the
stairs. After awhile, Matthew told the couple that it was time for them
to go up to their room. He asked the husband to help him get his wife
up the stairs. He said, â€śYou will be more comfortable up there.â€ť
Together they slowly helped her climb the stairs.
When they got there, Matthew took them to his room. Neva and Wayne
had gotten everything ready for them. Neva and Anne helped the woman
into the bed.
Neva talked a little to the husband, and then went out in the hall.
She said to Matthew, â€śShe will deliver her child tonight. But donâ€™t
worry. I have had children of my own, and have helped other deliver
theirs. I have told the husband to call me when itâ€™s ready. Anne will
help, and everything will be all right. You donâ€™t have to worry about
It was true. The woman delivered a baby girl that night.
Matthew went down to the kitchen to make sure everything was in
order. He stood there thinking about the innkeeper â€“ not having room.
It was still true. They didnâ€™t have room, but now they didnâ€™t have room
for him! He had no place to stay.
He went out into the living room â€“ to a big old chair, to see if he
could make himself comfortable there. But he knew that wouldnâ€™t work.
As he sat there he thought, â€śYou know, a stable would be nice right
now. Itâ€™s too bad I donâ€™t have one.â€ť
Then he thought, â€śThe closest thing I have to a stable is the attic. I could go up there and maybe find a place to sleep.â€ť
So, he went back up to the second floor and on up the stairs that
led to the attic. With his lantern, he could see all the old furniture
sitting around, and the boxes filled with stuff. There was dust
everywhere, but he didnâ€™t mind.
He found some cushions and put them on the floor to make a bed. He
turned the lantern down low and set it to the side. Then he settled
down on his makeshift bed, and found that it was really quite
He lay there thinking about the stable. As he looked around, he
could easily imagine that he was in a stable â€“ with the wooden rafters
and junk sitting around. The dark shadows could be animals â€“ with a
Then he laughed. â€śIsnâ€™t this a turn of events. The innkeeper is staying in the stable! The couple had his room.â€ť
As he looked, he suddenly saw a hole in the roof. Being a practical
man, he said, â€śI will have to get that fixed.â€ť Then as he adjusted
himself, he saw a lone star barely shinning through the hole. â€śNot only
do I have my own stable, but now I have my own Christmas star. Probably
not as nice as the one on the first Christmas, but itâ€™s mine.â€ť
Having his own star made him relax. Just before he went to sleep, he
heard a voice coming from deep inside him. â€śEven as you have done it
unto the least of these,â€ť the Lord said, â€śYou have done it unto me.â€ť