From the Vicar
The introduction of a third national lockdown, though not unexpected, has been a challenging way to begin the new year. It seems that lockdown fatigue is very much evident, with people being tempted to ignore the rules, and yet this period keeps being described as the most dangerous part of the pandemic yet. It was because of the rapid rise in our local infection rate that the Standing Committee took the decision in early January to suspend public worship once again. Whether we will have reopened by the time you read this or not, it remains important that we seek to play our part to reduce transmission rates as far as possible. So, let’s not forget – HANDS-FACE-SPACE.
The brighter news has been the introduction of the mass vaccination programme. Some of you will already have received jabs and others of us will still be waiting. The government has indicated that by the autumn every adult aged over 18 should have been vaccinated but that is, of course, a long way off. So, in the meantime, we need to be wait patiently as a nation and to be careful.
Talk of waiting reminds me of the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, otherwise known as Candlemas, which we shall celebrate this year on 31 January. We are told by Luke in his gospel that Simeon and Anna had been waiting for the revelation of the Messiah. Indeed, it had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before had seen the Lord’s Messiah. What a wonderful surprise it must have been for him to come into the temple that day and to hold Jesus in his arms, and for Anna to join her praises with his.
Following on from Candlemas, the season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on 17 February, another period of waiting in the run up to Easter. Sarah Peppiatt will be conducting an online service at 7 p.m. that day (details elsewhere in the magazine). Churches Together in Lent will also be running an online Lent Course called ‘Caring for Creation’, looking at climate change and how we respond to that as Christians. Keep an eye out for details of course groups by visiting the website www.stmarysgreatsankey.org.uk,looking at the weekly notice sheet or reading my weekly Vicar’s letter. If you have not yet signed up to ChurchSuite, our church database, do let me know as this is how my weekly letter is distributed.
With my best wishes for the year ahead
Pioneer Team Rector
As lockdown continues and our churches continue to remain closed for public worship, I appreciate that this remains a very challenging time for us all. The poor weather of recent weeks, culminating in flooding across parts of the country (including here in Warrington), does not help either, and we may well be feeling thoroughly fed up as a result. Positively speaking though, there are signs that spring is on its way and the news that over 10 million people have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine is a very welcome development.
This month sees the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday 17 February. As mentioned in last month’s letter, I am very grateful to Sarah Peppiatt who will be leading an online service at 7 p.m. that evening for us as a team, and those within other churches in West Warrington. If you would like to join the livestream, visit the St.Philips Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/StPhilipswestbrook. If you don’t have a Facebook account to pick this up, you can always type ‘St Philip’s’ Church Westbrook Facebook videos’ into Google and find the service there afterwards. Churches Together in West Warrington are also running a Lent course online this year based on material provided by York Courses called ‘Caring for Creation’. How do we as Christians respond to global warming, leading to climate change? What difference does a hope based on faith in God make to how we respond to this issue? In the light of the recent flooding in Warrington, this course feels more pertinent than ever. If you would like to join a group (in addition to any Lent groups your church may be running), these will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2pm, and Thursday at 7.30 p.m. Please let me know by Sunday 14 February at the latest if you would like to be involved.
Finally, two of our local churches in West Warrington are providing support to those affected by flooding, namely Kings Church through its centre on Marina Avenue, and Bethany Church on Liverpool Road. King’s Church are providing food parcels to those in need through its ‘Kings Table’ food bank. You can contact Jacky Johnson email@example.com if you wish to donate. Bethany Church is providing food, clothes and household items. Contact John Addison firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
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