From the Vicar
With the introduction of a second national lockdown, and the tightening of restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, there has been much made in parts of the media about ‘Christmas being cancelled’. But whatever restrictions might be in place this year, let me assure of you this: Christmas is definitely not cancelled. For nothing can cancel out what God has already done for us in sending his son, Jesus Christ, to earth 2,000 years ago. It is that which we shall continue to celebrate as Christians once again this year, even though I do not think we will not be able to celebrate it as we normally would both in our church building and with family and friends. Our Christmas services will also definitely be taking place, albeit on Zoom, if not also in the building. For further details of these, please see elsewhere in the magazine, but given the fluidity of life at present, do consult our church website www.stmarysgreatsankey.org.uk, weekly notice sheet or church noticeboards for the latest information.
I wrote in the last magazine about our Annual Parochial Church Meeting. I’m very pleased to say that Lynn Parish has been reappointed as churchwarden, and we now have both Ian Knight and Kate Forrest appointed as assistant wardens, together with Roxy Jones, Sarah Lavelle, Leanne Turner and Gemma Tocher being appointed to the PCC. Please do keep them and all existing members of the PCC in your prayers as we seek to navigate our way through these challenging times.
How might we all help and be helped through these times then? Firstly, through prayer. The Archbishops invited us at the start of this second lockdown to pray every day for the nation at 6 p.m., and to consider fasting on a Thursday. Maybe that is something which it would be good for us to continue doing as we watch and wait for the coming of Christ through the season of Advent this year? Secondly, through communication. It’s good to be in touch with each other and with others. I’m very grateful to those church members who have agreed to ring others so that we keep in touch with all in our church community during these difficult days. But of course many of us will be in touch with each other anyway, and that can help to reduce isolation, as does the Team Telephone Befriending Scheme reaching out to the wider community which some of us are involved with. Thirdly, through our giving. At Christmas, we remember the greatest gift God made to the world through sending his son, Jesus. What gift might you be able to make back to God to support the work of the church at this time?
With my best wishes for this Advent and Christmas season, and a brighter new year.
Pioneer Team Rector
P.S. I am pleased to report that the work on the organ chamber has now finished and the next step will be to reinstall the organ back into its usual place. We are also currently waiting on a date from VirginMedia for the installation of broadband into our church building.
Christmas 2020 is going to be like no other Christmas which I can remember. Online services, restricted numbers in church, no congregational singing. It all feels rather odd as I am sure it does to you. And that’s just in church of course. Outside of church, we may or may not be meeting up with family and friends as part of a Christmas bubble, but whatever we are doing, it will be different this year.
And whilst we will no doubt miss the familiar routines, it does perhaps give us all the opportunity to reflect a little more on what Christmas is really all about, namely the coming of Jesus into our world. For Jesus came into a world that was different for the Jewish people of his day. Not only were they living under Roman occupation with the restrictions that imposed upon them (as is true for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza today), but they were living with the weight of expectation of a coming Messiah who had been promised for many years and not yet materialised. Little did they realise that the Messiah was going to come in the shape of a weak, helpless, little baby born in Bethlehem. This was certainly different to what they had been expecting. But then we have a God who delights in surprising us in unfamiliar ways.
So as we approach Christmas this year, with its difference and unfamiliarity, may I encourage us all to take a moment to stop, to pause, and to listen again for the words of the angel proclaiming, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people”. For if we do that, and let those familiar words resonate deeply with us once again, they can provide the inspiration and hope to take us forward into all the uncertainties of the coming year.
May God bless you and all those you love, and remember, this Christmas season.
Take care and stay safe.
With my best wishes and prayers
Jeremy Tear, Pioneer Team Rector
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ST Mary's Church of England
Liverpool Road, Great Sankey,
Warrington WA5 1RE