Love bade me welcome
Mike Claridge - 28th March 2012
Roundabout - April 2012
St Andrew's, West Bromwich
One of my favourite poems is “Love bade me welcome” by George Herbert.
George Herbert was born in the Welsh borders, at Montgomery, in 1593. In his adult life he was first an MP and then, in 1630, he became Vicar of Bemerton in Wiltshire. He died there of TB just three years later aged 39. Throughout his life he wrote religious poetry characterised by ingenious use of imagery.
Holy Week and Easter is a time to pause and think about life and the generosity of God’s love. I commend the poem to you for reading and meditation during the next few weeks. It’s a dialogue between the character Love (God revealed in Christ) and ourselves. It speaks of God’s acceptance of us even when we feel unworthy. That is the Easter message, a love that is greater than our understanding, of our expections. A love that is greater even than death itself.
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.
"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"
"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.