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The Defenestration of Norbert

When do you take down your Christmas tree? Are you like me (5th January, Twelfth Night), or do you push into the 6th (Epiphany) – or even, as English Heritage have suggested, the real end of Christmas, which is Candlemas? A friend of mine always did this, the skeletal tree in the front window of his Deanery looking distinctly Lenten by 2nd February. People came from miles to wonder at its meaning.

It is my job to put the tree up, and then to decorate it, and then to await my wife’s arrival to meet it, and christen it. This year she named ‘him’ Norbert (he was a Nordmann Fir) and he was a shining joy in the corner of our first-floor sitting room. But all good things … so on 5th January I shoved him out of the window. He did not go gentle into that good morning, showering me with needles, and then jamming himself, still in his container, on the balcony. I gave him a few verses of O Tannenbaum, and this seemed to help. He was quite contented when the good folk from the Arthur Rank Hospice came to collect him for recycling.

Not only defenestration, then, but anthropomorphisation too. And why not? We grew rather fond of him, and I went to a huge amount of trouble to make him at home. The whole room was redesigned: tables and chairs moved, lamps and pictures relocated, electrics carefully and safely managed. It took hours.

Perhaps it’s a cheesy sermon illustration, but I’ll ask the question anyway: If you, like me, went to all this trouble for a tree, are we willing to go to the same lengths for God? When we sing ‘O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee’ – well, is there? How much? And what difference does it - or rather, He - make?

I’m not a great one for New Year resolutions, but I am going to try, this year, to find ways of making more room in my heart for Jesus. I hope you will too.

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