Not tonight though. Five minutes before the service was due to start two women came into church, both in tears and asked if they could light a candle. The steward made a stirling effort and found some tea-lights and holders and even matches (non of these being out for the casual visitor's use).
The younger woman's sister's baby had just died, only a few days old, following a very difficult labour and birth. The older woman was her mother-in-law and had come along to support her in praying.
They stayed for the service, surrounded by church members who had never met them before but who quickly put flowers into a vase next to the candles (and gave flowers afterwards), who sensitively offered support without being overwhelming.
The prayers and hymns I had prepared were worryingly appropriate! To the point where at times my heart sank as we sang another hymn that talked about God's children, life out of death, joy out of grief - all perfectly standard hymns but suddenly much more pointed and meaningful.
My own niece was still born at 39 weeks gestation and, though some years ago, there was no escaping the pain that washed over me in the face of this desperately sad story. I struggled to preach and singing 'abide with me' as the planned last hymn was almost too much - but somehow facing the pain was better than changing at the last minute to choose something less meaningful.
I was so proud that the church was open and able to support these two women. We may never see them again (they may associate us with this painful incident too strongly - as well as with care and compassion). The Kingdom of God broke through in the welcome, the hospitality and even in the 'too appropriate' liturgy and hymns.
Who knows how many people walk to locked churches looking for a comfort or space that is not there?