- St Catherine's Church
- Church Road
- CH42 0LQ
The vicar's letter found here is a duplicate of the letter found in our parish magazine.
Vicar’s Letter- July 2018
On Thursday July 5th the NHS will be celebrating its 70th anniversary. It is a remarkable story of dedication and care over many years and the country is rightly proud of all that the NHS has done in its history and continues to offer today.
At St Catherine’s we are delighted to have had close connections with the NHS over the years. Vicars were chaplains at the old St Catherine’s Hospital, taking services there, before it was demolished and rebuilt. During the rebuild of the wonderful new Health Centre the walls around the church were knocked down and it has helped to make the church more open and accessible, feeling much more part of the Community.
Around 10 members of the church family are either current or past members of staff and of course so many have benefited from the care of the NHS through all the different circumstances of life. It was a joy to be involved with organising the Archbishop of York’s visit to the Health Centre last September. Many staff, patients and public gathered in the atrium to hear him talk about the holistic care the NHS provides, looking after a patient’s body, mind, heart and soul. At Christmas last year we were involved with the carol service at the Health Centre.
The Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust are celebrating the 70th birthday with a community tea party at St Catherine’s Health Centre on Thursday July 5th 1-4pm (drop in anytime). Weather permitting the event will be outside, in front of the Community Centre. The tea party is a chance for people across Wirral to come together to celebrate 70 years of the NHS, raise a ‘cuppa’ and enjoy a cake. St Catherine’s church will be involved and the church will be open for anyone to have a look around or for quiet reflection.
The Christian community have had a long history of caring for the sick, for the injured. In the second century, when plague hit the city of Carthage, pagan households threw sufferers onto the streets. The entire Christian community responded. They were seen on the streets, offering comfort and taking them into their own homes to be cared for. In AD 369, St Basil of Caesarea founded a 300-bed hospital. This was the first large-scale hospital for the seriously ill and disabled. It cared for victims of the plague and was the first of many built by the Church.
In the 18th century a new 'age of hospitals' began, with new institutions built by devout Christians for the 'sick poor', supported mainly by voluntary contributions. Christians were at the forefront of the dispensary movement (the prototype of general practice), providing medical care for the urban poor.
In all this, Christian doctors and nurses have been inspirited by the example and teaching of Jesus. In the gospels we see Jesus showing great compassion for the sick, the lame, the blind. More than that, Jesus demonstrated that he truly was the Son of God by his amazing miracles – the healing of the paralysed man (Mark 2), the deaf and mute man (Mark 7), blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10) are just a few examples.
Yet Jesus’ healing had another purpose too – Jesus’ miracles were showing us what life will be like in his perfect kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, where there will no more sickness, no more tears, no more death. There will be no need for the NHS in heaven! Jesus does not promise healing for everyone in this life but he does promise that if we believe and trust in him there is life beyond the grave, eternal life in his perfect new kingdom. Jesus would urge us, therefore, to take him seriously and if we’re not a Christian to investigate his claim to be God’s Son and that His death opens the way to heaven.
Do contact me if you would like to consider Jesus further. Hope to see you at the NHS tea party on Thursday 5th July!
With best wishes
Vicar’s letter – June 2018
If you’re a football fan it’s an exciting time. Tranmere Rovers have wonderfully got promotion back to the Football League, after an exciting win against Boreham Wood in the Play-off final at Wembley. Meanwhile, at the time of writing (May 22nd), Liverpool are preparing to play Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday, May 26th. I’m predicting a 3-2 win for Liverpool – you’ll know at the time of reading this whether I’m right!
And of course there is the World Cup in Russia, starting on June 14th. I hope England can make it through their group, with games against Tunisia, Panama (the obvious joke is of course hats off to Panama if they win!) and Belgium, and at least make it through to the quarter-finals.
The World Cup is a wonderful event. It is the defining tournament in every player or manager's career and consequently there is no tournament more full of emotion and intrigue than the World Cup. We can all think of great moments, amazing goals, and stunning victories. We can also remember moments of controversy, pain or heartache. The World Cup is full of many different stories, often told about for years after. I still have vivid memories as a teenager of watching England reach the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup, with Pavarotti singing in the background!
The Christians in Sport website has an article that helps us to realise that, as much as we may love the World Cup, there is an even greater event worth thinking about. It says that, “The same words we use to talk about the World Cup can also all be applied to the amazing story of Jesus Christ:
Expectation: As Jesus came to earth, throughout his life, people asked the question of if this man was the long-awaited king who so many had waited for.
Passion: God loved us so much that he sent his own son to die in our place. What greater demonstration of his passionate love do we have?
Controversy: Jesus divided opinions when he was living and this has continued for centuries. People have always debated was this man just a good teacher, a mad man or the son of God?
Commitment: When Jesus came to earth he was beaten, scorned, shamed and crucified. He went to the cross for the sake of those whom the father loved and he died in their place - what greater sign of commitment to his people is there?
Pain: The cross was brutal and not only was there real physical pain for Jesus but he took on the weight of the sins of the world on his shoulders and experienced abandonment as he took the punishment for our sin on the cross.
Victory: Jesus died on the cross for our sins but death could not hold him. He defeated death and rose again from the grave, proving he is who he said he was and that he had authority to forgive sins and the power to beat death and offer us eternal life.
All of this can be summed up in a verse from the Bible that spectators over the years have held up throughout the World Cup tournament. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16” (www.christiansinsport.org.uk)
Christians can enjoy the World Cup, while having a deeper perspective on life. We should be as zealous for God’s honour as for England (or whoever you support) winning the World Cup!
And if you want to think more about the connections between faith and football why not come along to St Stephen’s, Prenton on Saturday June 9th, 9.30am to 11am as we join them for a Men’s Breakfast. Keith McIntosh, who spent 23 years on the staff of Man Utd, will speak on “Football and/or faith”. Do let me know if you would like to come along.
With best wishes
Vicar’s letter (May 2018)
Sadly, Damascus has been in news for all the wrong reasons over recent years, due to the terrible war raging in Syria. Yet in the Bible Damascus has very powerful associations as it was on the way to Damascus that Saul, the great persecutor of Christians, encountered the risen Lord Jesus.
The book of Acts records that, “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord”, Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”, he replied, “Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:3-6).
At once, Saul must have grasped, from the extraordinary way in which Jesus identified with his followers, so that to persecute them was to persecute him, that Jesus was alive and his claims were true. The light he saw was the glory of Christ and the voice he heard was the voice of Christ. Paul would speak of this as the turning point of his life. From now on he would be on the side of Christ and would unashamedly speak of Christ, “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).
Over the next few weeks on Sunday mornings we’re looking at Acts, chapter 6 to 12, which powerfully records the spread of the gospel. It’s a heart-warming tale of how the good news of Jesus keeps reaching out to different people, despite opposition and persecution. We will see how the most unlikely people become Christians – from Saul, a persecutor of Christians, to a Roman centurion and an Ethiopian eunuch. And we’ll see the gospel spreading out from Jerusalem across the Middle East and Mediterranean, just as Jesus had promised.
Today the good news of Jesus continues to change the lives of people. At St Catherine’s, I’m always encouraged to hear of how people have come to faith in Jesus from a variety of backgrounds It may be in dramatic ways, it must be very gradually over a period of time. In March we had a wonderful Confirmation service, with 7 people being confirmed, all with different stories of how they came to know Jesus for themselves. Former Gladiator, “Ace”, Warren Furman, also came and shared his testimony, during our Family Fun Afternoon.
On Wednesday June 6th 7.30pm , at All Saints Thornton Hough, the Wirral Gospel Partnership have organised an event called, “Real Lives”, when 4 local people will share their stories of how their faith in Jesus has changed them and helped them, over through difficult times. Chris and Pauline Power, for example, will speak of how their faith in Jesus helped them cope with their home being badly damaged by the explosion in New Ferry last March. Do come along to find out more.
Having begun with mention of Syria, I’ll close with another story from Syria of life-changing faith in Jesus. While an estimated 5 million people have left Syria since the war began, a further 6 million are displaced within Syria itself. Of those who remain, some are simply too old, unwell or poor to leave, and continue to need support, while others have chosen to stay and serve those in need.
One organisation that St Catherine’s support is Open Doors, which serves persecuted Christians around the world. Their website tells the story of one man from Aleppo deciding whether to stay or leave. His wife is pregnant, and they have had two children during the war. He said, “In our road the war is finished. But during the war it was very difficult to live with these bombs. Two bombs hit our apartment building. Here in this street maybe a hundred hit. But we live in God. We stayed with our faith. We prayed as a family here. We went to the church. I love my people. I have a mission to stay here and help people.”
It’s a moving testimony about the difference faith in Jesus makes. I hope Jesus makes a difference to your life today.