St Annes vicar urges thieves to return stolen baby Jesus to church
The theft of a baby Jesus figure from a nativity scene in St Annes has been met with outrage by parishioners.
But one man of God is extending his faith's teaching of forgiveness to the figure's captors.
Reverend Christopher Scargill, vicar of St Thomas' Church in St Annes, said the theft of the baby Jesus provides a moral lesson in the "consequences of human folly and foolishness."
Reflecting on the theft, Reverend Scargill said it's not too late for the thieves to 'do the right thing'.
"I was both astonished and saddened to be told of the theft of the baby Jesus from the crib in St Anne's town centre", said the vicar.
"What I would like to say to whoever took the figure of Jesus, whether they are an adult or a child, is that they have upset and indeed angered a lot of people by this prank and I hope by now they are feeling rather stupid and ashamed of themselves.
"And what are they going to do with it now?", pondered the vicar.
The reverend said he will offer amnesty to the thieves, and has assured them that they will be pardoned for their transgressions if the figure is returned to the sanctuary of the church.
He said: "If they wish, they can leave baby Jesus by the door of St. Thomas' Church, or, I am sure, any other church in St. Annes, where it can be found", he said.
"That would go some way to putting right what they have done and possibly get them out of what is now an embarrassing situation. It's not too late for them to do the right thing."
The vicar said he suspects the figure was taken by pranksters who might have become a bit too merry in the town's pubs.
He said: "Since the figure seems to have been taken sometime between the shops closing on Thursday and opening up again on Friday morning, my guess is that whoever thought it was a "fun" idea to steal the figure had been drinking.
"It certainly doesn't seem to have been either a theft for gain or mindless vandalism, since all the other larger and more expensive crib figures were untouched.
"Indeed, even the manger in which the figure of the baby lies, was left behind apparently undisturbed.
"I do struggle to imagine what was going through the mind of whoever took it, when they should have realised it would cause upset to large numbers of people - far beyond the ordinary Church community."
A philosophical Reverend Scargill said the empty manger will serve as a visual reminder of the teachings of Jesus.
He said: "Perhaps the empty manger will remind us that Jesus came into the world to rescue us from not just the big sins, but also the consequences of human folly, thoughtlessness and lack of consideration for the feelings of others.
"On a positive note I have been very heartened by the charitable response of so many people in the town.
"I would especially like to thank those who have taken the time to secure the doors of the crib, since the theft.
"The actual figure was made in Italy and the suppliers are out of stock of that design, but a local businessman has generously offered to try to source another figure we can put in the crib, hopefully by Christmas."