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 (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


Vicar’s Letter (Oct & Nov 2021)

Dear reader

One of my favourite verses, and indeed it was our verse for the year last year, is 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”.

 

It is because I long for us to fix our eyes on Jesus that over the last few weeks, the 2 minute video “thought for the day” for the church whatsapp group, has been an A to Z of Jesus.  That is, each day I looked at a title or description of Jesus under each letter of the alphabet.

 

Indeed, Jesus identifies himself as the A to Z.  Well, at least in the Greek alphabet!  Jesus says in Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End”.

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last letter of the alphabet.  So the Lord Jesus, as God himself, is absolutely the beginning and absolutely the end.  Everything that is originates ultimately in him.  Jesus is the powerful Creator.   And everything will end with him.  Jesus is also the just judge and the one who will welcome his children home.  So how we respond to Jesus has eternal significance!

 

If you were to come up with your own A to Z of Jesus I wonder what you would come up with?  Well this was my list of titles and descriptions of Jesus (you will notice that I slightly “cheated” when it came to X!). 

 

Jesus is our Advocate, the Bread of life, the Christ, the Deliverer, Emmanuel and the Faithful witness.  He’s the Good Shepherd, the High Priest, I AM, Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of Lords and the Light of the world.  Jesus is the Mediator, the Nazarene, the Overseer of Souls, the Prince of Peace, the Quieter of Storms.  He’s the Resurrection and the Life, the Son of God, our Teacher, the Unblemished Lamb of God and the Vine.  He’s the Word of God and the eXalted One.  Jesus is the same, Yesterday and today and for ever.  He’s Zealous for God.

 

Each name or title or description speak so richly of the character and work of Jesus - who he is and what he’s done for us.  Indeed, when we talk of someone having “a good name”, we mean they have a good character.  Whenever people hear their name, they know that this is someone they can trust.  Well Jesus has the perfect character, He is completely trustworthy.  Jesus has many names, because one name is not enough to reflect all that He is and all that he has done.  Perhaps think about the challenges you face at present.  Is there a particular title of description of Jesus that speaks to your situation and can encourage you at this time? 

 

All these names are previous to Christians.  And so we rejoice in the names of Jesus and his unique saving power.  As we read in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”.  If you want to find out more about these titles and description of Jesus, these short videos are also being put on our Youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVaZzgnGnggifZAZrc4wNQA).  You can also contact me for a written copy of the video thoughts. 

 

If this leads you to think further about Jesus you’re very welcome to come and explore more at our Sunday services.  Our morning series at 11am is looking at the Old Testament book on 1 Samuel.  It’s wonderful to see how this points forward to Jesus, the king of kings.  We’ve started singing at church again – what a joy is it to sing God’s praises together.  We have also made face coverings optional during the service, although ask that you wear them before and after the service, as people move around the building.  There is still social distancing.  So as a church we hope we’re moving forward at this time but still rightly cautious and careful.  Yet in all the ongoing challenges and uncertainties of this pandemic let me encourage you to keep fixing your eyes on Jesus and his many names!

 

Best wishes

James


Vicar’s Letter (Aug & Sept 2021)

Dear reader

 

As I write this in mid-July we continue to be in a world of great uncertainty and confusion.  The number of COVID cases is currently increasing and the rate in the Wirral is double the national average.  The government have announced the end of many of the COVID restrictions, but are now urging great caution as well.  Many children are having to isolate through being contacts of others at school with COVID or being in the summer bubble.  We’re unsure as to what the future may hold.

 

For many there is also great disappointment after England lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties.  After a glorious run to the final, in the end, it was not to be.  The Tokyo Olympics are soon to begin and yet without any spectators they will feel very different from a normal Olympic games.  

 

Many of us may feel exhausted and in need of rest.  Some may feel “Zoomed out”.  Others are weary of all the change and uncertainty.  It’s been a long term at school for many children.

 

So with all those emotions where should we turn to help?  Well the Psalms are a wonderful treasure house of poems and songs that can help us to express, with great honesty, our emotions, our prayers and our praise to God.  

 

John Stott, a great Christian leader and author, wrote this on the Psalms: “Whatever our spiritual mood may be, there is sure to be a psalm which reflects it – whether triumph or defeat, excitement or depression, joy or sorrow, praise or penitence, wonder or anger.  Above all, the Psalms declare the greatness of the living God as Creator, Sustainer, King, Lawgiver, Saviour, Father, Shepherd and Judge.  As we come to know Him better through the Psalter, we fall down and worship him”.

 

So I’m excited that at St Catherine’s this summer we’re continuing to make our way through the Psalter.  We’ve been looking at the Psalms each summer since I began as vicar here in 2013.  We’re now looking at Psalms 34 to 39 this summer.  Let me whet your appetite with some verses from these Psalms:

Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.

Psalm 35:24, “Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord, my God; do not let them gloat over me”.

Psalm 36:5, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies”.

Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes”.

Psalm 38:4, “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear”.

Psalm 39:12, “Hear my prayer, Lord, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping”.

 

Can I invite you along to St Catherine’s and spend time in the Psalms with us?  May they encourage you, whatever your situation.  On a practical note I should add that, given the high rate of COVID cases in the Wirral, the PCC have decided that we will currently continue with all the measures we’ve been taking, in line with government guidance, even after restrictions are lifted on July 19th.  So we will continue with social distancing, wearing face coverings and not singing at this time.  We’ll review in early September.  We hope this is a way of caring for the more vulnerable and loving our neighbour.  

 

These last few weeks, I have also done a short 3 minute video on a number of Psalms for the “Thought for the day” on the church whatsapp group.  If you would like to watch them, they’re also available on our YouTube channel.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVaZzgnGnggifZAZrc4wNQA 

 

May you know the Lord’s encouragement in the days ahead.  As always, please do feel free to contact me if you have questions about the Christian faith, want to find out more about life at St Catherine’s or ask for prayer.

 

Best wishes

James