[Organic house group, our son teaching on Christ dealing with our shame; two of our six grandsons at Christmas time, quite a few years ago!]

Quite often, for personal stimulation, I dip into my ancient John Baillie’s A Diary of Readings. Last night and this morning I was touched by a poem, ‘I Have a Room,’ written by Sir Matthew Hale, influential Lord Chief Justice of England over four hundred years ago. I must confess it would be difficult to imagine someone in his position today, anywhere in the world, writing the same kind of thing – how much the world’s values have changed! But here it is for your and my enjoyment. [By the way, the word ‘cratch,’ according to my Oxford Dictionary, means a ‘rack for feeding beasts out of doors.’ ‘Bay’ in this context refers to a perfume distilled from bayberry leaves]

But art Thou come, dear Saviour? Hath Thy love

Thus made Thee stoop, and leave Thy throne above

The lofty heavens, and thus Thyself to dress

In dust to visit mortals? Could no less

A condescension serve? And after all,

The mean reception of a cratch and stall?

Dear Lord, I’ll fetch Thee hence; I have a room.

‘Tis poor, but ’tis my best, if Thou wilt come

Within so small a cell, where I would fain

Mine and the world’s Redeemer entertain.

I mean my heart; ’tis sluttish, I confess,

And will not mend Thy lodging, Lord, unless

Thou send first before Thy harbinger, I mean

Thy pure and purging grace, to make it clean

And sweep its nasty corners; then I’ll try

To wash it also with a weeping eye;

And when ’tis swept and washed, I then will go

And, with Thy leave, I’ll fetch some flowers that grow

In Thine own garden, faith and love to Thee;

With those I’ll dress it up; and these shall be

My rosemary and bays; yet when my best

Is done, the room’s not fit for such a guest,

But here’s the cure; Thy presence, Lord, alone

Will make a stall a court, a cratch a throne.

I have a room!