Drop inns

I try to do church In a place where drop ins are rare. So when you look across the hall and see four young men (17-19 year olds) siting waiting I am taken back a bit. So during the conversation I discover they are Spanish speaking and I invite my professor over, he speaks Spanish and Russian. They are from Barcelona and stoping in town saw our banner and thought they would visit us. The cynic inside cried out but I ignore that cynic and get tea and coffee organised offer them care and hospitality. Just as the service starts they move table then leave and following them is my retired Colleague. So I go out the other door, me shouting to my colleague to stop he's far to old to be chasing young men. 

Well they stole his wife's purse, I chase them and they jump into a car and speed off. 

They stole a purse from a blind elderly woman we also find out they stole someone's phone someone who gives generously to our community day in day out. 

Last Friday an 80 year old man smoking outside a local elderly village was mugged for his money by four young men, they roughed him up because he would not let them into the complex. 

I'm not sure what sort of low life shit gets up of a morning planning to steal its way through the day but we gave hospitality to four today. And I presume until the full painful stinging force of law falls upon them they will repeat today's activity across our city. 

Yes I know what some of you are thinking I'm supposed to be a Christian? I should forgive. 
Well I'm not open to forgive today maybe tomorrow when my anger has been bathed afresh in Gods grace. 

I don't know their story because they chose to abuse hospitality and steel from good people rather than share and ask. They had a good idea they would find in church foolish trusting people willing to build build friendships. I don't know where they were from, Spain? North Africa? London? I don't know because they chose to abuse and steal rather talk. 

So now I have a crime number, a hurting congregation and an angry disappointed vicar seeking Some grace. 


  1. I find this a difficult issue and I've been thinking about it for the last 48 hours. (you kept me awake!!). Many years ago there was a female vicar in London whose daughter was raped. Some time later she resigned her ministry, she could not preach about forgiveness when whatever she did she found she could not forgive that rapist. I can understand that. Colleagues in the area argued she was setting the bar too high. There's also a song by a country singer called Lyle Lovvet with the line "God may forgive you but I never will."

    That seems to me to be the human situation we can find ourselves in, the command to forgive is absolute and unconditional, and indeed our Forgiveness is dependant on our forgiving.

    I think that vicar was wrong, clergy and lay we both stand together in our humanness, in our imperfections. And - as you say - we seek grace. Some of the most impressive priests I've known have been those who are most human. We forgive as much as we are able to forgive, in the hope that ability to forgive increases over time.

    I'm against being angry but I'm all in favour of anger! Anger is what fuels our strength to stand hand in hand along Westminster bridge against the evil that is ISIS. Anger is rightly the response to stealing from two old people and the civil law is the answer.

    But there is also the danger/temptation to repress the anger because "we ought to forgive". We work at it and repress more, then it just becomes salvation by works - the more effort I put in the better I can do it. As a good protestant I have to go for salvation through the faith relationship. I'm sure Rohr has something to say on this.

    I suspect the answer is that we are looking at things in the wrong way, the old way.

    I hope you don't mind me responding to these blogs Nigel. They always get me thinking/praying.

    May God help you to help your community through this. All in the end is harvest.

    1. Like Mary I'm pondering your response. Thanks for reading and sharing your wisdom.


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