The First Sunday in Advent always marks the start of a special season, the anticipation of the moment on which the whole of history pivots, the incarnation of Our Lord. The warm glow of candles, the smells and the sweet sound of choristers always, for me, provided a soothing respite from a busy time in the legislative calendar and there was many a service from which I returned invigorated and refreshed for the fray, anxious to resolve issues and slay dragons of timidity or privilege. It was I fear the cause of occasional domestic argument as my dear wife could not always understand why I could not respect the remainder of the sabbath, or indeed the holiest day of them all, by settling by the fireside with a warm glass of mulled wine.
It was pleasing and surprising to a see a Christmas tree in church today and indeed to see them sprouting all over the place around the land, and, I am sure, would have been enormously gratifying to our dear Queen, whose beloved husband was responsible for adding so much merriment to English celebrations. Like many I was at first suspicious of his Germanic customs - although the tree itself is the responsibility of an English saint, the blessed St Boniface, who took the gospel to the Germans. My suspicions were allayed when my children enthusiastically adopted this foreign practice and in time I came, when opportunity allowed, to provide the family tree myself, felling it with a vigorous blow of the axe.
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