I’m on a mission this Advent not to complain about Christmas. Every year I complain about how busy and stressful December is. But not this year. This year I’m going to try and set an example and live a better way in December. Many people even most people find December impossible, with all the busyness and stress and here I think we can serve our community in this need.
You may have noticed in church we have two new CCTV cameras. No these are not there to catch cheats in the church quiz or pick up the mistakes the vicar makes. They are not even there to keep us safe from any danger. These cameras are there so that we can open the church up every day in the hours of sunlight.
Starting on 28th November church will be open every day, even when nothing is going on in it. In fact I think that is just as important than the church being open for services or community groups. December is stressful in particular and having a place of calm, a sanctuary away from consumption and busyness is vital.
Over the last years we have created a wonderful place in our churchyard, it attracts many, many people all through the week. Yet because of insurance, security and habit, they are met with a cold locked door. Opening the door even if people do not always come in, is an important symbol of our openness as a church. Especially at this time of year. If you come up to visit a grave or are just passing with your dog, you can now come in and spend a few moments alone with God. You can light a candle or hang a star on our thanksgiving tree. We will put out self service coffee and biscuits too. In our chaotic and whirling world having a place of rest and peace is vital.
Perhaps this is most important on Christmas Day itself. When people come to the churchyard to lay a wreath, they are met by an open door. At Christmas Jesus comes to be with us in our world. God opens the door in the person of Jesus. Mary and Joseph were met with shut doors when there was no room in the inn. The church is God’s house and his door is always open to us. The sign of a closed and locked door sends the opposite message to the one that we want to give to the world.
The money to pay for the CCTV comes from the legacy left to the church by the late Penny Day. She was a person who had her heart open to the people of our town. I can think of no better way to honour her memory than to enable our church to be open each day. So this December and in the new year if you are passing pop in for a minute or two light a candle and spend just a few moments in sanctuary, it will enrich our lives greatly.
Fr Hywel Snook, Parish Priest