- 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.
Vicar’s letter (Sept 2018)
I write this early August before I’m about to go away to help on a Christian youth venture and then on holiday. Already the World Cup seems a long time ago with the Football League starting on the day of writing. By the time you read this in September it may seem even more of a distant memory.
But it was a glorious World Cup. Great games, magical goals and of course the fantastic progress of the England team to the semi-final. Who would have thought that England would at last win a penalty shoot-out and that waistcoats would become so popular!
Gareth Southgate impressed hugely as the England manager, helping the public to feel a sense of identifying with the England team in a way that we’ve not seen for a while. He comes across a genuinely nice bloke who shows concern for all aspects of his players’ lives - their well-being, their families, and the wider situation they are in. On one Christian website I read this comment, “There’s something about Southgate’s demeanour that resonates even with non-Christians: it’s almost as if humans are hard-wired to respond positively to a humble, yet strong, leader”.
Of course Jesus was the ultimate leader, humble, yet strong. He was not afraid to challenge the religious leaders of his day if he thought they were misleading people in how to know God or not living God’s way. He unashamedly turned over the tables of the money changers at the temple.
Yet Jesus was supremely humble. As the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2, “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross”.
Jesus is the humble, strong leader we should be prepared to follow and accept as our Lord and Saviour. That actually takes humility too – being prepared to accept Jesus knows what is best for us. That takes strength – being prepared to go against the tide of public opinion, perhaps even your family and friends, in living for Jesus wholeheartedly. It take strength to say that salvation can only be found in Jesus, through his death at the cross.
During the World Cup, we increasingly saw the St George’s flag being flown or waved as England made their fantastic progress to the semi-final of the World Cup. Budget store Poundland reported a 59 per cent uplift in sales for St George’s Flags and a 45 per cent increase in people buying car flags. “From Falmouth to Farnborough, England’s gone flag-tastic,” a spokesperson said.
Well if England football fans excitedly wave the cross of St George, Christians ought to be even more unashamed to identify with the cross of Christ.
As our verse of 2018 declares in the words of the apostle Paul, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). The cross of Christ is what saves us and is to shape our lives. One writer noted that, “Paul’s whole world was in orbit around the cross. It fills his vision, illumined his life and warmed his spirit. He gloried in it. It meant more to him than anything else. Our perspective should be the same”.
September often seems a time of new beginning, children starts new classes at school, perhaps move schools. At St Catherine’s it feels a time of change as we say thank you and goodbye to our curate Derek Marshall, moving on to become Priest-in-charge at St Chad’s, Leasowe, and Helen Eccles, our Young People and Families’ worker, who will begin training for ordination as a permanent deacon. We welcome on September 2nd, Charlotte Kirkham, as our new Young People and Families’ Worker. Yet amongst change for them, change for us, and perhaps change for you, it’s reassuring to know that among change Jesus remains the same; the cross is still the central point of our faith. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). May you delight in Jesus and the cross this month ahead.
Vicar’s letter (August 2018)
I love reading and I always enjoy time with a good book over my summer holidays. I’m planning what books I will take away with me on holiday. I’m enjoying going through the Lee Childs’ “Jack Reacher” series, so at least one of those will go with me along with Robert Harris’ “Munich”. I also like books on politics so having just bought Tim Shipman’s “Fall Out”, that’s in my holiday pile too.
Of course, I’m also considering what Christian book I’ll read over August too. The Good Book Company are doing a special offer, with a number of titles available for just £2 each until the end of August (while stocks last). I’ve bought Matt Fuller’s book “Time for Everything – how to be busy without feeling burdened”. Hopefully this mix of biblical wisdom and practical advice, will help me in the busy autumn ahead!
This is what the Good Book Company have written about renewing our minds by reading: “What is a book? A book is not paper and colours and ink, it is dreams and ideas that lead you to think. Romans 12:2 urges Christians, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Our minds are affected by what we read. Just as with our bodies, what we put into them matters. And our conviction is that a Christian book can help to renew our minds. It can edify and challenge us. It can encourage and inspire us. It can point us to the ultimate “Good Book” - God’s own inspired word – which can transform our lives”.
We also have a small number of Christian books available for just £1 (either new or second hand) on our bookstall in church. The Christian Bookshop on Grange Road West, Birkenhead also has a summer book sale – 50% off over 500 books & CD titles throughout August. Why not treat yourself to a book this summer.
At St Catherine’s we have some comings and goings on the staff team. Helen Eccles has been our Young People & Families’ worker for the last 3 years and moves on for training for ordination as a permanent deacon. Her last Sunday with us will be on August 26th. Helen has been a wonderful servant hearted worker who has done fabulous work among children and young people – both on Sundays and midweek. She’s also been involved at Mersey Park School – taking assemblies, running Christmas lessons at school and the ever popular lunchtime Bible club. Charlotte Kirkham will be joining us in September as our new Young People & Families’ worker, joining us from a church in Leeds. We look forward to welcoming her to Tranmere.
We are also saying a sad goodbye to Derek Marshall, who has been curate for four years. Derek has been appointed as Priest-in-charge at St Chad’s, Leasowe and his last Sunday with us will be on September 16th. Derek has generously given of his time to ministry and has engaged us well in God’s Word, whether through preaching, home groups, Men’s Breakfast or “Good Question”. Please do be praying for Helen and Derek as they move on and for Charlotte as she arrives.
I hope you enjoy the summer – perhaps with a good book or two!
Vicar’s Letter- July 2018
On Thursday July 5th the NHS will be celebrating its 70th anniversary. It is a remarkable story of dedication and care over many years and the country is rightly proud of all that the NHS has done in its history and continues to offer today.
At St Catherine’s we are delighted to have had close connections with the NHS over the years. Vicars were chaplains at the old St Catherine’s Hospital, taking services there, before it was demolished and rebuilt. During the rebuild of the wonderful new Health Centre the walls around the church were knocked down and it has helped to make the church more open and accessible, feeling much more part of the Community.
Around 10 members of the church family are either current or past members of staff and of course so many have benefited from the care of the NHS through all the different circumstances of life. It was a joy to be involved with organising the Archbishop of York’s visit to the Health Centre last September. Many staff, patients and public gathered in the atrium to hear him talk about the holistic care the NHS provides, looking after a patient’s body, mind, heart and soul. At Christmas last year we were involved with the carol service at the Health Centre.
The Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust are celebrating the 70th birthday with a community tea party at St Catherine’s Health Centre on Thursday July 5th 1-4pm (drop in anytime). Weather permitting the event will be outside, in front of the Community Centre. The tea party is a chance for people across Wirral to come together to celebrate 70 years of the NHS, raise a ‘cuppa’ and enjoy a cake. St Catherine’s church will be involved and the church will be open for anyone to have a look around or for quiet reflection.
The Christian community have had a long history of caring for the sick, for the injured. In the second century, when plague hit the city of Carthage, pagan households threw sufferers onto the streets. The entire Christian community responded. They were seen on the streets, offering comfort and taking them into their own homes to be cared for. In AD 369, St Basil of Caesarea founded a 300-bed hospital. This was the first large-scale hospital for the seriously ill and disabled. It cared for victims of the plague and was the first of many built by the Church.
In the 18th century a new 'age of hospitals' began, with new institutions built by devout Christians for the 'sick poor', supported mainly by voluntary contributions. Christians were at the forefront of the dispensary movement (the prototype of general practice), providing medical care for the urban poor.
In all this, Christian doctors and nurses have been inspirited by the example and teaching of Jesus. In the gospels we see Jesus showing great compassion for the sick, the lame, the blind. More than that, Jesus demonstrated that he truly was the Son of God by his amazing miracles – the healing of the paralysed man (Mark 2), the deaf and mute man (Mark 7), blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10) are just a few examples.
Yet Jesus’ healing had another purpose too – Jesus’ miracles were showing us what life will be like in his perfect kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, where there will no more sickness, no more tears, no more death. There will be no need for the NHS in heaven! Jesus does not promise healing for everyone in this life but he does promise that if we believe and trust in him there is life beyond the grave, eternal life in his perfect new kingdom. Jesus would urge us, therefore, to take him seriously and if we’re not a Christian to investigate his claim to be God’s Son and that His death opens the way to heaven.
Do contact me if you would like to consider Jesus further. Hope to see you at the NHS tea party on Thursday 5th July!
With best wishes
Vicar’s letter – June 2018
If you’re a football fan it’s an exciting time. Tranmere Rovers have wonderfully got promotion back to the Football League, after an exciting win against Boreham Wood in the Play-off final at Wembley. Meanwhile, at the time of writing (May 22nd), Liverpool are preparing to play Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday, May 26th. I’m predicting a 3-2 win for Liverpool – you’ll know at the time of reading this whether I’m right!
And of course there is the World Cup in Russia, starting on June 14th. I hope England can make it through their group, with games against Tunisia, Panama (the obvious joke is of course hats off to Panama if they win!) and Belgium, and at least make it through to the quarter-finals.
The World Cup is a wonderful event. It is the defining tournament in every player or manager's career and consequently there is no tournament more full of emotion and intrigue than the World Cup. We can all think of great moments, amazing goals, and stunning victories. We can also remember moments of controversy, pain or heartache. The World Cup is full of many different stories, often told about for years after. I still have vivid memories as a teenager of watching England reach the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup, with Pavarotti singing in the background!
The Christians in Sport website has an article that helps us to realise that, as much as we may love the World Cup, there is an even greater event worth thinking about. It says that, “The same words we use to talk about the World Cup can also all be applied to the amazing story of Jesus Christ:
Expectation: As Jesus came to earth, throughout his life, people asked the question of if this man was the long-awaited king who so many had waited for.
Passion: God loved us so much that he sent his own son to die in our place. What greater demonstration of his passionate love do we have?
Controversy: Jesus divided opinions when he was living and this has continued for centuries. People have always debated was this man just a good teacher, a mad man or the son of God?
Commitment: When Jesus came to earth he was beaten, scorned, shamed and crucified. He went to the cross for the sake of those whom the father loved and he died in their place - what greater sign of commitment to his people is there?
Pain: The cross was brutal and not only was there real physical pain for Jesus but he took on the weight of the sins of the world on his shoulders and experienced abandonment as he took the punishment for our sin on the cross.
Victory: Jesus died on the cross for our sins but death could not hold him. He defeated death and rose again from the grave, proving he is who he said he was and that he had authority to forgive sins and the power to beat death and offer us eternal life.
All of this can be summed up in a verse from the Bible that spectators over the years have held up throughout the World Cup tournament. “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.” John 3:16” (www.christiansinsport.org.uk)
Christians can enjoy the World Cup, while having a deeper perspective on life. We should be as zealous for God’s honour as for England (or whoever you support) winning the World Cup!
And if you want to think more about the connections between faith and football why not come along to St Stephen’s, Prenton on Saturday June 9th, 9.30am to 11am as we join them for a Men’s Breakfast. Keith McIntosh, who spent 23 years on the staff of Man Utd, will speak on “Football and/or faith”. Do let me know if you would like to come along.
With best wishes