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 (August & September 2022)

Dear reader

As we head into August it’s that time of year when many are able to relax a little more, enjoy the summer holidays, soak up the sun and devour a good book! I’ve been looking at my bookshelf and there are a couple of books based around World War Two that are heading towards my holiday reading pile. I’ve read almost all of Ben Macintyre’s books and they are wonderfully gripping. So, I’m looking forward to reading one of his latest books: “Agent Sonya: The True Story of World War Two’s Most Extraordinary Spy”. The back cover describes it as “the fascinating tale of a life that would change the course of history”. I’m also hoping to read Max Hasting’s book “Chastise: The Dambusters”. Its back cover is also very enticing, “Operation Chastise was one of the most extraordinary episodes of the Second World War. It has also become one of the most misunderstood”.


Meanwhile, on the fiction side, I’m continuing to work my way through the superb Bosch series by Michael Connelly. Bosch is a detective on Los Angeles with a quest for truth and justice. What is fascinating is that having last read some of the early books many years ago it is fascinating to re-read them and see in a fresh light how the different plot lines come together and the threads that run throughout the series.


If you’re a Liverpool fan (or indeed for any football fan) I would point you towards a brilliant book I’ve just read, by Ian Herbert: “Quiet Genius, Bob Paisley, British Football’s Greatest Manager”. The back cover has this view from the New York Times, “this is an evocative, intimate portrait that at last shines a light on one of the most compelling, most successful figures in English football’s history”.


However, I would also encourage you to take the time to read some good Christian books over the summer. I’m hoping to re-read J.I. Packer’s classic, “Knowing God”. Written almost 50 years ago it remains one of the best ever books on understanding who God is and how we can know Him. The back cover contains as compelling a recommendation as any of the books mentioned above. The evangelist Billy Graham comments that “Packer has the rare ability to deal with profound and basic spiritual truths in a practical and highly readable way. This book will help every reader grasp in a fuller way one of the Bible’s greatest truths: that we can know God personally, because God wants us to know him”.


Yet above all, I would encourage you to take time to simply read or study the Bible itself this summer. If you’ve been a Christian for a while, perhaps start from the beginning and aim over the next few months to read through the whole of the Bible. There are various reading plans around to help you to do that. Then you will see how, even more than the Bosch detective series, all the plots lines of God’s big story come together, and the threads of his salvation purposes run throughout the Bible.


Or if you’re fairly new to the Christian faith, or perhaps even just open to investigating it, why not read one of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John? These describe the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – a life that changed the course of history even more than Agent Sonya! If the biography of Bob Paisley was fascinating how much more are these biographies of Jesus. The gospels present an evocative, intimate portrait of Jesus and shines a light on the most compelling figure in world history. Or simply take time to read through the events of the cross – one of the most misunderstood episodes of Jesus’ life. Even more misunderstood than Dambusters and yet leading to an even greater victory!


At the July men’s breakfast, we looked at Psalm 19. It spoke powerfully of the delight that can be had in reading the word of God: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul “(v7); “They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb”. (v10). So do make time to explore the treasures of God’s Word than summer. Perhaps be in contact with me about where to start or visit us at St Catherine’s and hear God’s Word read and taught each Sunday. Have a good summer!


Best wishes

James


PS Further to my last vicar’s letter two months ago, I rejoice at Nottingham Forest winning the Play-off final and returning to the Premier League!!   


Vicar’s letter (June & July 2022)

Dear reader

Hope is an essential part of being a fan of a football team. Each year you hope that your team may do well – whether it’s going for the title or promotion or having a good run in one of the cups. “This could be our year”, you think. But of course, for so many fans, those hopes can be dashed during the season as your team underperforms or get knocked out of the cups.


As a Nottingham Forest fan I began the season hoping we may get into the play-offs. And remarkably, after the worst ever start to a season, that is what Forest have done! I write this just a few days before the play-off Final on Sunday, May 29th. I’m desperately hoping that Forest will win and return to the Premier League for the first time for 23 years! Or, if you’re a Liverpool fan, I’m sure you’ll be hoping for Liverpool to win the Champions League on May 28th, when they play the final against Real Madrid. By the time you read this you may know whether those hopes have been dashed or fulfilled.


Hope is not only part of being a football fan but part of all our lives. We hope to do well in exams or to progress in the workplace. We hope for good results from medical tests. We hope to have good weather over the summer and enjoy a summer holiday. We hope for better times ahead. Hope is the thing you look forward to in the future which lifts your mood in the present.


I’ve recently enjoyed running the Hope Explored course at St Catherine’s. It’s a three session course that explores how we all long for hope and how we can then find that in Jesus. On the videos the presenter Rico Tice speaks of the wonder of hope: “Hope’s a wonderful thing, a powerful thing. It’s what keeps us alive. History’s greatest survival stories show that when we have something to live for we can persevere through even the hardest of circumstances.


That’s why there are few things that crush us more than when our hopes are dashed. That sinking feeling in your stomach when the application gets rejected or the sale falls through or the test results come back and all your happy daydreams dissolve in a moment. Dashed hopes are hard to bear. And so are disappointed hopes. Perhaps you know how it feels when you do get what you’ve been dreaming of, only to find it’s not all you thought it would be. You finally get the job or relationship or the retirement that you’d been hoping for and it just doesn’t deliver the satisfaction it promised”.


The dashing of hopes explains why the disciples on the road to Emmaus were so downcast as they left Jerusalem. They meet the risen Jesus, without recognising who he was. They tell him, “The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel (Luke 24:20-21).


But wonderfully Jesus would reveal himself to these disciples and explain that the Scriptures said he had to suffer and rise from the dead. And he was now standing right in front of them, revealing that he had conquered death and gives hope to all who put their trust in him.


So Rico Tice goes on to explain that “a hope worth having is what the Christian faith claims to offer. It’s an invitation to put your hope in a future that is better than anything else you can imagine. Christianity is not about a feeling in my tummy or a blind faith in defiance of all the data. Christian hope is a joyful expectation for the future, based on true events in the past which changes everything about my present. That’s what real hope is: a hope worth having”.


So can I encourage you to consider the hope that you have in life and what the foundations for that hope are. And then consider the hope that Jesus offers us all. I’m considering running the Hope Explored course again at some point in the summer. Do let me know if that is something you would be interested in coming along to. Or simply coming along to either our 11am service or more informal Sunday@7 service and hear more about the hope that Jesus gives to his people.


Best wishes (Come on Forest!)

James


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