At the feast of the Presentation, Jesus was brought to the temple and there he met Simeon and Anna. For Anna the temple was a place of spiritual sanctuary. The church too should be a place of sanctuary. A place of safety.

Safe Guarded

Firstly this means we are Safe Guarded. 

All Saints takes safeguarding very seriously for adults and children. It's important that we all are safe at church from abuse, coercion or bullying. 

We often talk about the church as a family, yet this can be problematic. Family language can be used to manipulate “I know that's been hard, I know someone's been horrible to you but we're a family, so we have to stick together.” Although Jesus called his disciples brothers and sisters, Jesus also said to his disciples “I have called you friends.” If a friend becomes abusive and toxic towards us, we would challenge them or even step back and keep ourselves safe. An so it is should be at church.

We may also have mixed experiences of family. If you look at our safeguarding policy, there are two policies that we have to display publicly. One is about protecting children but the second is about domestic abuse. 

Many of us have grew up in a culture where a degree of violence in the home was considered ‘acceptable.’ I am sorry if you've received that message from the church in the past. So let us be clear, abuse within the home is never acceptable or excusable.

We must also be aware that if children witness domestic abuse that is abuse towards the children themselves.

Safe Space

A second way church can be sanctuary is to be Safe Space. 

The church has always been a refuge for those who didn’t fit with the wider expectations of culture - we have the entire history of the monasticism that testifies to that. The church should be safe for people whatever their sexuality or gender identity. We are also a church where it doesn't matter what job you do, what education you have, what ethnicity or cultural backgrounds you are. 

Safe Kept

The final area of Sanctuary is to be Safe Kept. 

Today we bless candles, an ancient part of Christian worship, that we carry into our homes as we celebrate the light of Christ. Church brings together the wisdom of the past with the experience of the present looking forward to the future - a place of the eternal.

We gather here as a place of Sanctuary and then we go out into the community that God has called us to live and worship in, with the heart to share that sanctuary with others.