St Catherine's Tranmere

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

Email Us

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 2024)

Dear reader

Have you ever met someone famous and not recognised who they were until much later on? Well I greatly enjoy the story told by former Royal protection officer Richard Griffin at the Platinum Jubilee in 2022. He reminisced about a picnic he went on with Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral. They had an amusing encounter with two American tourists who didn't realise they were meeting the Queen.

“There were two hikers coming towards us and the Queen would always stop and say hello”, Griffin said, “and it was clear from the moment we first stopped that they hadn't recognized the Queen”. One of the Americans then asked the Queen where she lived.  “She said, “Well I live in London, but I've got a holiday home just on the other side of the hills”, Griffin recalled. “And he said, 'How often have you been coming up here?”. When the Queen told the American she had been coming up to Balmoral Castle for over 80 years, the hiker asked if she had ever met Queen Elizabeth.  “Well I haven't, but Dick here meets her regularly,” the Queen replied, referring to Griffin. 

The hiker then asked Griffin: “Oh, you've met the Queen? What's she like?”.  “Because I was with her a long time and I knew I could pull her leg, I said, “Oh, she can be very cantankerous at times, but she's got a lovely sense of humour”. Griffin told Sky News.  The American then put his shoulder around Griffin, got his camera out, and gave it to the Queen, asking if she could snap a picture of him with the royal protection officer.  “Anyway, we swapped places and I took a picture of them with the Queen and we never let on, Griffin said. “And Her Majesty said to me, “I'd love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to their friends in America — and hopefully someone tells him who I am”.

Well on Easter Day I’ll be speaking about another time when two people met a monarch – and didn’t recognise him. It is from Luke 24, when two disciples met the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus. They were returning home from Jerusalem, deeply saddened by the death of Jesus. Jesus comes alongside them but, “they were kept from recognising him” (verse 16). These two disciples explain that all their hopes were dashed by Jesus’ death, “we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (v21). They were also confused by rumours of Jesus’ resurrection.

What’s significant is that instead of immediately revealing himself to these disciples, Jesus speaks to them and brings clarity into their confusion: “He said to them, “Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (v26-27). At this point it’s more important that the disciples see Jesus in the Scriptures than to see him in person. They need to realise how the Old Testament speaks of the necessity of the Messiah’s suffering and then prophecies his resurrection.

Only after Jesus takes the disciples on an incredible Bible study were their eyes opened “and they recognised him and he disappeared from their sight” (v31). This unexpected meeting becomes a life-changing meeting. Death has been defeated. Jesus is in front of them. The promise of new resurrection life is theirs. But just as quickly as they recognise Jesus, he vanishes from them. Jesus has left them but his Word remains with them. The disciples then asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us” (v32).

If the risen Christ, on that first Easter day, made himself known through the Bible, then he will continue to so today. I hope your hearts burn with excitement as you read the Bible. Through the Scriptures we hear the voice of the risen Lord speaking to us, drawing us into fellowship with him. It should set your heart on fire for Jesus when you realise from the Bible that Jesus had to die for your salvation. It should set your heart on fire for Jesus when you realise from the Bible that Jesus has risen. So this Easter can I encourage you to have a life-changing meeting with Jesus through reading the Bible. Do contact me if you want to find out more or come along to St Catherine’s!

Happy Easter!


Vicar’s Letter (February & March 2024)

Dear reader

Our verse for this year is taken from 2 Samuel, the book I’ve been preaching through these last few months on Sunday mornings. It is 2 Samuel 22, verses 2 to 3: “the Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge”. 2 Samuel 22 is David’s reflection on his life. But it’s less about him and more about God, his rock. Indeed, “the Lord is my rock” is the refrain of the song. Not only does it open the song but it’s repeated in the middle and towards the end. So David cries out in v32, “For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God”? In v47 David declares, “The Lord lives! Praise me to my Rock! Exalted by my God, the Rock, my Saviour”!

In practical terms, a rock is a place of safety, a place to hide behind. As David knew so well in his own life, its caves provide shelters from storms and enemies. A rock is also a foundation upon which we stand or build. It is solid and certain. Rocks are used to build walls and fortresses to protect those within. A massive rock, like a mountain is immovable. It stands firm through the fiercest storms and battles. So it’s no wonder the Lord is referred to as a rock by David. It’s a wonderful image for David to draw upon as he reflects on his life.

In the New Testament Christ is referred to as a rock as well. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:4 that Christ was Israel’s spiritual rock during their desert wanderings. So, “they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them and that rock was Christ”. Jesus is the fulfilment of all God’s promises to be our rock, our fortress and deliverer. Jesus is the ultimate answer to David’s cry for salvation and deliverance. Through his death on the cross, through his resurrection, Jesus has rescued us from the ultimate enemies of sin and death. He is the one who can give us safety and stability.

Throughout the song David does not just declare that God is like a rock of stability, security and safety. Rather that God is his rock, “my rock”, he says. A rock will offer no protection, no safety or comfort, until you make it your rock and go to it for refuge. And so it is with Jesus, the rock. Salvation comes not just from acknowledging that Jesus is the Saviour, but rather trusting in him as your personal Saviour and come to him for refuge.

So if we feel overwhelmed by our guilt and sin, we can trust that Jesus is our rock who has forgiven us. If we feel insecure because of the pressures of life, we can trust that Jesus is our rock who strengthens us. If we feel anxious about life’s uncertainties, we can trust that Jesus is our rock who gives us stability, as he is always there for us. If we feel threatened by the ultimate enemy of death, we can trust that God is our rock who will raise us from the dead and bring us to new life in Jesus.

What is it that gives you a sense of security and stability in life? Is it your relationships, your bank balance, your achievements, your job, your home? We can thank God for these, for they are all from him. But they are not what gives us ultimate security and safety. It is only Christ who is our rock. Like David we should say, v32, “And who is the Rock except our God?”

David’s message to us is this. There is a rock on which you can stand. If you put your feet on that rock, then you can keep your head above water in the year ahead. If we trust in Jesus we can have a deep assurance that God has dealt with our sin. He sees us as righteous in Christ. He is always with us as the one stable feature of our life. He will bring us safely to the shore of the new creation.

So I pray that this “Verse of the Year” will encourage us in the year ahead. Do contact me if you would like to find out more about how you can have God as the rock in your life.

Best wishes


Vicar’s Letter (Dec 2023/Jan 2024)


Dear reader

We live in a world that longs for peace.  Our news is full of the devastating effects of war and conflict, whether in Israel-Gaza or in Ukraine.   We long for peace in our relationships with others.  In the workplace we can become frustrated over the mistakes of others.  At home we may experience tension with family members.  Christmas time so often brings conflict rather than peace with those around us.  We also long for peace with ourselves.  We regret past mistakes.  We struggle with our present weakness.  We worry about the future.  Peace on earth is an elusive thing.  Everyone wants peace, yet few seem to possess the peace they would like.  So where can we turn to for peace? 


The good news of Christmas is that Jesus offers us peace.  The prophet Isaiah foretold the birth of Jesus.  “For to us a child is born…And he will be called wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  Jesus is “the Prince of Peace”.  Jesus came into the world peacefully, as a baby and with Him came the capacity for true, lasting peace.  By peace I mean not only the absence of conflict and animosity, but also the presence of joyful relationships, ultimately with God himself.   We will never experience true peace in our life apart from relationship with Jesus, the Prince of Peace. 


How does Jesus offer us that peace?  By offering himself.  In Colossians 1:19-20 we read about Jesus: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness in him, and through him to reconcile all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”.  The problem is that we are not at peace with God.  We are naturally alienated from him because of our selfish desire to live life our way without reference to God.  God is the loving creator of the world.  He made us.  He loves us.  He knows what is right for us.  And yet we choose to ignore him, to go against him, even to mock him.


But wonderfully God does not give up on us.  The Lord Jesus Christ entered the world on a peace mission.  The world killed him.  He was hung on a cross.  And yet that was part of God’s plan.  Jesus died in our place, taking the judgement of God we deserve for our rebellion upon him.  He shed his blood so that we may live.  Through the death of Jesus we can have peace with God.   God’s anger at us because of our sin can be put away.              Our rebellion against him can be overcome.  God can adopt us into his family.  As we sing at the beginning of the carol, Hark the Herald Angels, “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the new born king; peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled”. 


God’s peace in Christ is offered to the world.  But how can we enjoy this peace?  When the angels appeared to the shepherds they praised God and sang: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14).  God’s offer of peace goes out to all.  But only those whose God’s favour rests on them will enjoy the peace he brings.  To have God’s favour rest on them, people need to repent and put their trust in Jesus. 


And when we have peace with God we can experience true peace.  It’s not a temporary peace, but a lasting peace.  God enables us to enjoy the kind of peace that will carry us through the ups and downs of life, that sustains us through the hardest of times.   As we enjoy peace with God we can also enjoy peace with others.  When we become part of God’s family we can enjoy new relationships with fellow Christians.  God’s Holy Spirit changes us and we begin to love others with the love of God, forgive others knowing that we’ve been forgiven by God and be patient to others, with the help of God.


So let me encourage you to come along to St Catherine’s for our various Christmas services to find out more about Jesus and the peace he offers us.  These include our Carols by Candlelight (Sunday Dec 10th 6pm), Nativity (Sunday Dec 17th, 11am) and Christingle (Christmas Eve 4pm).


Happy Christmas and Happy New Year!