- 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, which is now published every 2 months instead of monthly.
Vicar’s letter (July 2020)
It goes without saying that these last three or four months have been very strange times, indeed traumatic for so many. Whether it’s the pain of bereavement, the uncertainty over jobs and education or the isolation of lockdown, we have all felt stretched in many ways.
Here at St Catherine’s, we had the deep sadness of the death of Tony Keating in April, through coronavirus. There is a tribute to Tony’s vibrant life and faith elsewhere in the magazine. Please do pray for Tony’s wife Christine and his children Becky and Kevin. It’s at such times that our resurrection hope in Jesus Christ burns brightly within us and sustains us in dark moments.
We have had to adjust to new ways of doing church. Of course, we’ve not been able to meet in the church building, but church life and ministry continues. Sunday services have now become audio services, like podcasts, which are found on our website, (www.stcatherinestranmere.co.uk/sermons.htm) with order of services and powerpoint slides e-mailed out. It’s been good to hear of a few people who don’t regularly attend St Catherine’s listening in.
We’ve all discovered the world of Zoom, which I certainly have not heard of before! That’s been a great way to hold meetings, whether home groups, prayer meetings, church quizzes or PCC. Our church Whats app group has been a good encouragement to many. I’ve been posting a daily video thought for the day for the group, which has then been put on our new Youtube channel. Why not take a look if you’ve not seen them yet - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVaZzgnGnggifZAZrc4wNQA
Charlotte, our young people and families’ worker, has been doing a fantastic job of keeping in touch with everyone. Whether its Youtube videos for the Cheeky Monkey or Explore groups or Zoom meetings for teenagers, she’s continued to share the good news of Jesus with all the groups.
Of course, many events and activities have sadly been cancelled. In the last magazine I was writing about the forthcoming series of evening meetings, under the title “More to Life”, organised by the Wirral Gospel Partnership. Obviously, this couldn’t continue but the speaker, Glen Scrivener, has kindly agreed to come at a similar time next year - Monday 22nd to Friday 26th March 2021.
Perhaps you’re someone who has found yourself thinking more deeply about life during the pandemic. Maybe you’ve asked yourself the question, “Is there more to life”, when all the normal activities, whether work, meeting with others, even watching football, have ceased. What is life really about? Why not take a look at this website https://lookforhope.org/ to help you find hope in these difficult days.
The Prime Minister has this week said that places of worship can reopen for church services from July 4th. However, at the time of writing (June 26th), the Church of England are still waiting for guidance from the government on this. Whenever we do reopen St Catherine’s will make sure that we comply with all the necessary guidance. We will have to adjust for a while to the Sunday morning service feeling very different. It will still be good to gather together. For those, for understandable reasons, unable to return immediately, I will continue to do audio services.
In a rapidly changing world it has been good to reflect that Jesus does not change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). I hope that during these last few months of lockdown we’ve been able to take time to look to Jesus, to call out to him in prayer, to read his word. The Lord Jesus, who himself knew all the suffering of the cross, is the one who promises to be with us in distress and gives us eternal hope for our future.
Vicar’s letter – March & April 2020
Our verse for 2020 is from Hebrews 12:1-2, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”. We want to encourage one another to fix our eyes on Jesus because we believe there is “more to life than meets the eye”. Life can be shaped by what we think about religion, money, fame, self-worth, and choices. But is this where it ends? Is there more beneath the surface of the things that identify us? The Bible tells us there is.
From Monday March 30th to Friday April 3rd the Wirral Gospel Partnership have organised a series of evening meetings under the title, “More to Life”. More to Life poses the question, “Is there more to life than meets the eye?” Each evening the evangelist Glen Scrivener will explore an identity marker that gives shape to life. He will either interview someone or talk through the fresh perspective the Bible gives in these areas. Is there more to life? “Yes there is,” is the simple answer.
Originally from Australia, Glen has lived in the UK for more than half his life. Glen is passionate about people meeting Christ and equipping Christians to share their faith. He’s often found speaking at Churches and Universities, in the studio producing online media or in his office, writing books and other evangelistic material.
Our programme begins with a warm-up event on Sunday 1st March 2020 called “More to Life than Politics: An evening with Fiona Bruce MP”. St Catherine’s is hosting this event and it begins at 6.30pm. Fiona Bruce is the MP for Congleton and a key member of the Christians in Parliament group. Fiona will be interviewed about her Christian faith and how this makes a difference to her life and work.
Glen then joins us for the last week of March, where the events are as follows (all start at 7.30pm):
Mon, 30th March: “More to Life than Religion” (at St Catherine’s)
Is religion a good thing or a bad thing? To some it’s boring; to others simply irrelevant. Still other people are concerned about abuses, power, money, control, and brain-washing. Is there more to life than we think?
Tue, 31st March: “More to Life than Money” (at St Andrew’s, Bebington)
How much money is enough? Wirral is home to both the ease of wealth and the pressures of poverty. But we could all do with a bit more money, couldn’t we? Glen will interview Mark Mitchell, Birkenhead-born Christian founder of Mitchell Motor Group with its £50m annual turnover.
Wed, 1st April: “More to Life than Fame” (at St Andrew’s, Bebington)
Our culture is obsessed with celebrity and fame, offering short-cuts to glory via X-factor, sport, and even baking! Glen will interview Fiona Hendley, former stage and screen actress, and wife of Manfred Mann’s Paul Jones, about her unique, Christian perspective on the lives of the rich and famous.
Thur, 2nd April: “More to Life than Self-Worth” (at Holy Trinty, Spital)
Social media has many strengths, but it’s also a place where our modern crises of self identity, self worth, sexuality, body image, idols and comparisons are on display. Shouldn’t we celebrate who we are – or don’t we really know? This event will be particularly well suited to teenagers and young adults.
Fri, 3rd April: “More to Life than Choice” (at Holy Trinity, Spital)
Have it your way: Burgers, designer babies, cars, careers, sex, gambling, shopping, and banking – we demand freedom of choice as a right. And add to the list: Religion. The exclusive claims of Jesus Christ simply don’t fit our world. What needs to give?
This is a great opportunity to bring someone to a relaxed evening that will encourage friends and family to think further about who Jesus is and why he is important. It would be great to see you at one of these evenings – so you can see why Jesus can really does make a difference to your life!
Vicar’s letter – January 2020
Happy New Year! I hope that you had a good Christmas and that you are looking forward to 2020.
Each year St Catherine’s has a verse for the year. Our verse for 2020 is from Hebrews 12:1-2, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”. It’s an appropriate verse for this year, 2020! The phrase 2020 vision means “the ability to see perfectly, without needing to wear glasses or contact lenses”. Well spiritually, I hope at St Catherine’s we can encourage you to see Jesus clearly and to fix your eyes on him! In our busy and often stressful lives we are to focus on Jesus - who has opened up the way of faith, through his death on the cross.
In Hebrews 12 the call to fix our eyes on Jesus comes in the context of running a race. So again, this seems a very appropriate verse of the year in the year of the Tokyo Olympics! The Christian life is a race. Not that it is like a competition where there is only one winner. No, it demands effort, thought, and determination. The Christian life is like a marathon, not a sprint. It is a test of stamina, not of speed. It calls us more to be like Mo Farah, the British long-distance runner, rather than Usain Bolt.
In races you need to keep your eyes firmly fixed on the finishing line, not to be distracted by others around you. Well in the Christian race we have to fix our eyes on Jesus, the one who will take us to the finishing line and beyond, into the kingdom of heaven. So when the writer appeals to us in v2: “let us fix our eyes on Jesus”, the word used refers to the act of someone who, aware of rival attractions, deliberately looks away from other things to focus on one thing. There can be so many things in life that can distract us away from Jesus. They are often good things, whether work or family, sport or hobbies. But they can take our eyes away from focusing as clearly on Jesus as we should.
In this world we cannot physically see Jesus. We walk by faith and not by sight. But it is never blind faith. John 20 records the risen Lord Jesus meeting doubting Thomas, a week after his resurrection. Suddenly seeing Jesus, with the marks of his crucifixion, moves Thomas from disbelief to belief. Yet Jesus says to Thomas, “Because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Jesus is saying that you don’t need to see him in order to believe in him. Jesus expects us to believe without seeing him with our own eyes. He made provision for that because he enabled his apostles, through the Holy Spirit, to write down what they saw and hear so that we could believe! That is why v30-31 flow on from v29: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”. We’re not being asked to believe blindly without evidence. John is asking us to believe, to have faith, on the basis of the written evidence from apostolic eye-witnesses like himself.
If you want to find out more about the evidence for Jesus and what it means to believe in him, why not come along to our new “Life Explored” course? It begins on Tuesday January 14th 8pm. This 7 week course helps us to investigate what Christians believe. At the end of March the Wirral Gospel Partnership are organising a series of evening meetings called “More to Life”. It poses the question, “Is there more to life than meets the eye?” Is there more to life than religion or money or fame or self-worth or choice? Come along to see the fresh perspective Jesus gives in these areas.
At our 11am service on January 5th I’ll be speaking on the verse for the year and then, the following Sunday, exploring the theme of seeing Jesus in John’s gospel. It’ll be followed on January 19th by an all-age talk on blind Bartimaeus not only gaining physical sight, but spiritually seeing who Jesus is. Home groups will look at the book of Hebrews this term, a great book for seeing the supreme greatness of Jesus. So I hope in all these ways, we are encouraged to see clearly who Jesus is and to fix our eyes on Him! May we have 202/20 vision spiritually!
Best wishes. Happy New Year!