The March edition of the Church magazine is now available.
Archbishops of Canterbury and York urging the nation to pray every evening from February 1st
As we reach the terrible milestone of 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, we invite everyone in our nation to pause as we reflect on the enormity of this pandemic.
100,000 isn’t just an abstract figure. Each number is a person: someone we loved and someone who loved us. We also believe that each of these people was known to God and cherished by God.
We write to you then in consolation, but also in encouragement, and ultimately in the hope of Jesus Christ. The God who comes to us in Jesus knew grief and suffering himself. On the cross, Jesus shares the weight of our sadness.
We therefore encourage everyone who is feeling scared, or lost or isolated to cast their fears on God. We also know that poorer communities, minority ethnic communities and those living with disabilities have been afflicted disproportionately and cry out for the healing of these inequalities. During this pandemic, we encourage everyone to do all they can to live within the guidelines and constraints given by government following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser. We show our commitment, care and love for one another by ensuring we do everything we can to stop the virus spreading.
None of this is easy. Very many of us are experiencing isolation, loneliness, anxiety and despondency like never before. Many people have lost their livelihoods. Our economy struggles. Also, the necessary restrictions we live with have also prevented us from being alongside loved ones as they died, or even at their graveside. All grief profoundly affects us, but this pandemic grief is so hard.
Therefore, we need to support each other. We do this by following the guidelines. But we also do it by reaching out to each other with care and kindness.
One thing we can all do is pray. We hope it is some consolation to know that the church prays for the life of our nation every day. Whether you’re someone of faith, or not, we invite you to call on God in prayer. Starting on 1 February we invite you to set aside time every evening to pray, particularly at 6pm each day. More than ever, this is a time when we need to love each other. Prayer is an expression of love. A number of resources will be made available on our website.
Finally, we write of hope. We are grateful for the hope we have because of the service of our NHS and social care staff. What a blessing and lifeline for our nation. We are grateful for the service given in local communities by clergy, other frontline workers and so many good neighbours. We are grateful for the hope of the vaccine. It is a testimony to the God-given wisdom and gifts of scientists and researchers. We urge everyone to take the vaccine as soon as it is offered to you.
Most of all, we have hope because God raised Jesus from the dead. This is the Christian hope that we will be celebrating at Easter. We live in the hope that we will share in his resurrection. Death doesn’t have the last word. In God’s kingdom, every tear will be wiped away.
Please be assured of our prayers. Please join us.
Everyone has questions
We believe that everyone should have the chance to explore the Christian faith, ask questions and share their point of view; wherever they are in the world.
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith. There are ten in total and a day away. Each session covers a different question that people might have about faith. The sessions are designed to create conversation – there’s no pressure or charge; it’s just an open, informal and honest space to explore and discuss life’s big questions together.
Our next Alpha course begins on January 20th at 7.30pm on Zoom. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the meeting details.
After a long wait, the refurbishment of our church building, in accordance with our Fit for the Future programme, has begun.
The slowly rotting and decaying wooden floors will be replaced with an entirely new concrete floor which will incorporate a new under floor heating system. This will replace the very elderly boilers and radiators which are well past their best and ensure we provide a much warmer, energy efficient building. The work to the floor is necessary and brings with it the necessity to remove the pews and choir stalls. The proposals also include the replacement of the sound system with an up to date audio-visual system incorporating all the very latest technology. The work is scheduled to be completed in May 2021, during which time we will be meeting for our services in the church hall.
We apologise to you all in advance for any inconvenience which may be caused whilst the work is being undertaken. However when this has been completed we will be handing down to our successors a building of which we can be as proud as our Victorian predecessors were proud of the new church consecrated in 1893 and which is loved by us all. We have an obligation not only to ourselves but also to those Christians who follow Jesus in our footsteps.
Your giving matters more than ever.
The present Coronavirus pandemic is having a serious effect on the financial position and vision at St Thomas’s and St Luke’s. Our church is dependent on the your generosity never more so than now. We are doing everything we can to offer help to those who need it through our through our support of the asylum seekers and the ACT Foodbank and at the same time continuing to provide all of the functions of an active parish church.
As a part of the Deanery of Church Wigan, we have a commitment to meet our portion of the parish share as well as meeting the regular expenses of a large parish. In addition to one off donations we do need to take the opportunity to renew our giving. Each of us can ask the Lord how we can give financially as part of St Thomas’s and St Luke’s. This may be the opportunity to begin a regular pattern of giving, or to review and increase the amount we can contribute to the life and work of our church. We need your support so that we can continue with our work here in the community of Ashton in Makerfield.
Everything we do at St Thomas and St Luke is made possible by your giving, Thank You.
Here you will find access to a variety of activities and things of interest to keep children occupied whilst our church buildings are closed.
This week’s bible reading is from Matthew 11:16-30 but we are just going to look at verse 28:
Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
How fantastic that we can give all our worries and fears to God and he will carry them for us. He doesn’t say that he will take them away, but by sharing our problems with him, we can cope so much better.
Life can seem a little like a game of snakes and ladders- sometimes, we’re throwing the die and going up all the ladders, only to get almost to the top and find we Zoom back down a slithery snake!
Try to Take time every day to thank God for everything in our lives- good and bad, happy and sad. He wants to be part of everything we do and think and say. During this unusual time when schools aren’t open for many and we can’t see our friends or even some of our family, we can feel lonely, sad, and possibly a bit cross. God understands. Tell him how you feel. He’s with us all the time.
If you have a great day- maybe a bike ride or a walk in the countryside, play in the park or get to meet up with a grandparent then tell God how happy this makes you feel. As a church family, we pray for each other and try to care for each other. Maybe this week you could think of someone from our church family to pray for, maybe ask a grown up if you could send a card to them to let them know you’re thinking of them.
But above all this week remember that our amazing God loves us 24/7 – all day, every day.
The craft is to either make a flower labelled with ways of drawing closer to God. Alternatively, plant some seeds or a small plant and watch them grow. Decorate a small plant pot and fill with soil. Either plant seeds or small plants. Water helps the seeds/ plants grow stronger just as we thrive when God takes care of us when times are tough.
Below you will find a colouring page and a snakes and ladders game to print off, if you don’t have one at home. You can use buttons for counters and put numbers 1-6 in a cup to choose if you don’t have dice.
Here’s our prayer for you for this week:
Thank you for being with us through times that are difficult and through exciting times.
Thank you for loving us so much that you want to share any problems we might have, that by talking to you in prayer, you help us cope.
Thank you for our friends and family, particularly, we thank you for those who are looking after us.
Finally, here’s a lively video which reminds us how great our God is.
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