St Catherine's Tranmere

  • St Catherine's Church
  • Church Road
  • Tranmere
  • Wirral
  • CH42 0LQ

01516527379
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Vicar's letter

The vicar's letter found here is a duplicate of the letter found in our parish magazine, which is now published every 2 months instead of monthly.  

Vicar’s Letter (April & May 2022)

Dear reader


Easter is almost upon us. And yet for some people it can pass them by so easily. They enjoy the long Bank Holiday, the Easter eggs and the Easter bunny. Yet they have become so familiar with the death and resurrection of Jesus, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, that they fail to get excited by it. Others around us may be more sceptical about whether Jesus really did rise from the dead. Indeed, can we trust the Bible at all?


I hope that our Easter series of sermons will help us with a fresh approach to the message of Easter. I’ve entitled it “Easter Detectives” – as we check out the truth about Jesus. I always enjoy a good detective story. Indeed, I really enjoyed watching at the cinema Kenneth Branagh’s “Death on the Nile”, featuring Hercule Poirot. Well the Easter story equally features a tragic death, lots of clues, suspense, and a fascinating range of characters.


So we begin on Palm Sunday with “Easter Detectives: can we trust the evidence?” As we think about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus can we trust in the gospels on which they are all based? Perhaps they’re just myths, legends, a case of Chinese whispers as the stories are changed as they are handed down from generation to generation? We’re going to be looking at how Luke opens his gospel, as he sets out his detective method, “I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning” (Luke 1:3).


Then, on Good Friday, the sermon is “Easter Detectives: Who killed Jesus?” The answer may be more complicated and unexpected than you first think! Indeed, I hope we can look at it with the help of Cluedo! In Cluedo you have to reveal the identity of the murderer, the location of the murder and the murder weapon. Well I hope on Good Friday we will consider the significance of who killed Jesus, the location of his death and his form of death.


Finally, our all-age Easter Sunday sermon is “Easter Detectives: Clues at the tomb”. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? What is the evidence for this? We’ll look at the clues and the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.


Of course, all of this should not simply be interesting information but life-changing transformation. Lee Strobel was a journalist who investigates the evidence for the resurrection. You can read about his investigation in his short book, “The Case for Easter”. After checking out the evidence he concluded that Jesus really is the one and only Son of God, who proved it by rising from the dead.


Lee Strobel then writes, “As soon as I reached that monumental verdict, the implications were obvious. If Jesus overcame the grave, he’s still alive and available for me to personally encounter. If Jesus conquered death, he can open the door of eternal life for me too. If he has divine power, he has the supernatural ability to guide and transform me as I follow him”.


So why not come along to our Easter services and check out the case for Easter too? Or buy a copy of Lee Strobel’s book. I’m also hoping to run a short new course called “Hope Explored” after Easter – for three Tuesday evening s on April 26th, May 3rd and May 10th. This is an informal and relaxed course for anyone who wants to find hope, peace and purpose in life. Do contact me for more details.


Finally, a reminder that the Wirral Gospel Partnership, a group of local churches, are putting on a week long set of events at the end of March, entitled “Life”. The evangelist Glen Scrivener will explore different life themes in Luke’s gospel and why Jesus is important in all areas of life. There are more details later on in the magazine or can be found here https://wirralgospelpartnership.org.uk/life-mission/ Do pray and take friends along. Or if you’re reading this curious about Jesus, wondering if life has any meaning at all, do come along and find out more.


Best wishes and Happy Easter!


James


Vicar’s Letter (February & March 2022)

Dear reader

Our verse for 2022 is “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).  What’s your immediate reaction to Jesus’ words here?  Maybe you’re glad to be reminded of what life is all about and you say thank you for Jesus.  Or you think, well I guess that’s true.  But it doesn’t feel like it at present.  The only thing my life is full of now is worry and hassle.  Are you enjoying life to the full?  

 

The world around us tells us how to enjoy life to the full.  Adverts offer us different gadgets and possessions.  Magazines tell us how to look beautiful or handsome or to get fit or where to go on holiday.  Friends encourage us to join in with them and just party.  But Jesus says that he, and he alone, can offer us life to the full.  This is the opposite of what many people think.  The Christian life is often portrayed as being dull and boring.  It’s about following rules and dreary religion.  But Jesus is saying we miss out on a full life if we’re not following him.  He doesn’t just promise us “life for ever” but “life to the full”, not merely a new quantity of life, but a new quality.

 

But Jesus is not promising us a perfect life as the world thinks about.  He’s not promising that we’ll have good health, no family concerns, the perfect job, no money worries and never battle with self.  We still live in a broken world, where there is pain and suffering.  Jesus is not promising a life free from pain but a life full of God’s presence.   “Life to the full” is not about enjoying every hobby or holiday that is out there.  No, “life to the full” is a life rightly related to God, enjoying rich and satisfying life with him – both now and forever.

 

In John 17:3 Jesus explains what this life truly is.  Praying to God, Jesus says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”.  Jesus is saying that the life he has come to bring is about knowing “the only true God”.  Jesus has come to restore us to the life we were created for - life with God, who made us and loves us.   Eternal life begins the moment you start to know God and enjoy friendship with him.   Then you will enjoy fully eternal life in the future when you die.  In the kingdom of heaven you will know God perfectly and see Jesus face to face.

 

This is what we made for.  Relationship with God, life with God.  That is why the things of this world, even the best relationships, will never fully satisfy us and will often disappoint us.  It’s because they were never meant to satisfy us.   Yes, enjoy them.  But don’t find the meaning of life in them.  Augustine, a great Christian writer in the 3rd century, wrote: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they rest in you”.

 

How does Jesus give us this new life with God?   Very simply, by the giving of his life.  In John 10:14-15 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep”.  Left to our own devices we don’t have the sort of life with God that Jesus has come to bring.  We are sheep who have walked out on our loving God.  So we are in terrible danger of facing God’s judgement.  But in love Jesus came to give his life for his sheep.  He died on the cross to take God’s judgement for our sin.  He died to bring us forgiveness.  He died to restore us to God, the source of all life.  He came to give us eternal life.  

 

So will you look to grow in your relationship with Jesus?  Will you pray that through his grace you may know him better and so enjoy more the life with him that he offers?  That means having Jesus involved in every area of your life.  Worshipping God is not just what we do on Sundays at church.  Worship takes place throughout the week – at work, at home, with our family and friends, in our hobbies and at our volunteering.  We live life to the full with God by having God fully involved in all of our life.  

 

Will you look to share Jesus with others – so they may have life too?  The Wirral Gospel Partnership, a group of local churches are putting on a week long set of events at the end of March, entitled “Life”.     The evangelist Glen Scrivener will explore different life themes in Luke’s gospel and why Jesus is important in all areas of life.  There are more details later on in the magazine or can be found here https://wirralgospelpartnership.org.uk/life-mission/ Do pray and take friends along.  Or if you’re reading this curious about Jesus, wondering if life has any meaning at all, do come along and find out more.  Best wishes.  

James


Vicar’s Letter (Dec 2021/Jan 2022)

Dear reader

 

I write this just over a month away from Christmas Day hoping that this Christmas will be better than last year’s, when the country headed for a new lockdown and there were restrictions on who we could meet over Christmas.  Retailers will be hoping it’s a better Christmas for them too – and this month has seen the release of various festive adverts.  John Lewis has brought us another heart-warming advert.  Their ad, titled “Unexpected Guest”, features a teenage alien, Skye, crash-landing during the height of festivities in the woods near the home of 14 year old Nathan.  He introduces her to the traditions of mince pies, decorating the tree and, to her slight confusion, wearing novelty Christmas jumpers.  In the background we hear a cover of “Together in Electric Dreams”, reminding us that “Love never ends” and “We’ll always be together”.  John Lewis customer director; Claire Pointon, said, “There is nothing more magical than discovering the joy of Christmas for the first time”.

 

Well Christians want to enjoy not only Christmas traditions of mince pies, Christmas trees and Christmas jumpers but also celebrate the coming of the truly unexpected guest – Jesus Christ.  There were plenty of unexpected guests that first Christmas – the visits of angels, shepherds and wise men.  But the coming of God himself into this world was truly unexpected, even though Old Testament prophecies had hinted at God entering this world.  Perhaps as you read this today you marvel once again at the miracle of the incarnation, God taking on human flesh.  As John’s gospel puts it: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (1:9) and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (1:14).  

 

The reason Jesus came into this world is because God’s love never ends.  Humanity has turned its back on God, preferring to live life away from our loving creator God.  But God did not give up on his rebellious world.  John’s gospel later puts it like this, in a well-known verse, “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” (3:16).  God’s love for us would take Jesus to the cross, where God the Son died to bring forgiveness from God and friendship with God, for all who believe in him.  Jesus rose from the dead 3 days later, after 40 days on earth ascended into heaven, and will one day welcome all his people into his perfect heavenly kingdom, where there will be no more sin and no more suffering.  In God’s new creation his people can say that “We’ll always be together” – with one another and with our loving God.

 

So the Christmas message is good news.  There’s nothing more magical than discovering the joy of knowing Jesus for the first time.  Christmas is a great time to encounter Jesus, the unexpected guest.  So I warmly invite you to our Christmas services, as listed below.  Please note that the first 3 services (Carols, Nativity, Christingle) require you to book in, by e-mailing me (james_terry1@hotmail.com) and indicating if you would like to be in a socially distanced pew (half the church will be a socially distanced area)

Carols by Candlelight, Sunday Dec 12th 6pm (book in by Thursday, Dec 9th)

Nativity, Sunday Dec 19th, 11am (book in by Thursday, Dec 16th)

Christingle Eve, Christmas Eve 4pm (book in by Tuesday, Dec 21st)

Christmas Communion, Christmas Eve 11pm

Christmas Day service (with Communion) 11am

 

As I close, I want to give thanks to give for the life and faith of Edith Checketts, a much loved member of St Catherine’s, who died on 6th October.  Edith inspired many with her warmth of character and lively faith in Jesus.  Indeed, she delivered and posted this parish magazine for many years!  Enjoy reading the tributes later on in the magazine.  

 

May you have a wonderful Christmas, that is truly out of this world!  Happy Christmas and Happy New Year!  Best wishes

James