How blessed we are to live in this peaceful part of Sussex where we feel safe and where it’s usual for our beautiful churches to be open all the year round in daylight hours. And how much we are at present missing the freedom of having our churches open!
Many of you will know that recently there has been an increase in petty criminal activity in our area and some churches, including those at Birdham and Itchenor, have been targeted. The police and Drew Allardice, our Community Warden, are working hard to catch the culprit(s) and they are making progress. In the meantime we have been given the firm advice to keep our churches locked unless there is someone there to keep an eye on things.
This is hard because of course we want our churches to be open to welcome locals and visitors alike. We want as many people as possible to share in the peace and tranquillity of these places, made holy by the worship of generations. However, we also have a responsibility to our wider communities in supporting all that Drew Allardice and others are doing to maintain the safety and peace of this area. If we keep our churches open at this time we are providing the opportunity for crime and reinforcing it.
So we need to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”. Wise in taking practical measures to remove temptations to criminal behaviour by those who are that way inclined. Innocent and gentle in praying boldly for our fellow human beings engaged in criminal behaviour, that they may be loosed from the shackles of their current lifestyle and find a better way – the freedom of life in all its fullness.