I came across this sixteenth century poem today.
Yet if his majesty our sovereign lord
Should of his own accord
Friendly himself invite,
And say “I’ll be your guest to-morrow night.”
How should we stir ourselves, call and command
All hands to work! “Let no man idle stand.
Set me fine Spanish tables in the hall,
See they be fitted all;
Let there be room to eat,
And order taken that there want no meat.
See every sconce and candlestick made bright,
That without tapers they may give a light.
Look to the presence: are the carpets spread,
The dazie o’er the head,
The cushions in the chairs,
And all the candles lighted on the stairs?
Perfume the chambers, and in any case
Let each man give attendance in his place.”
Thus if the king were coming would we do,
And ’twere good reason too;
For ’tis a duteous thing
To show all honour to an earthly king,
And after all our travail and our cost,
So he be pleas’d, to think no labour lost.
But at the coming of the King of Heaven
All’s set at six and seven:
We wallow in our sin,
Christ cannot find a chamber in the inn.
We entertain him always like a stranger,
And as at first still lodge him in the manger.
As on who loves entertaining in normal times I can identify with the preparations which would be made to entertain a king. I wonder, do I make as much effort to welcome Jesus into my home?
But here’s the thing; Jesus enters our home not as a king but as that loyal friend who sits with you as long as you need, who doesn’t care about the dishes piled up in the sink or the dust on the shelves.
You can invite Jesus into your heart and home without a big clean-up operation beforehand. Just do it!
I still like the poem though.