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  Revd. Kimberley Mannings writes …... Mar 2019 Magazine,

The liturgical season of Epiphany has come to an end and we enter into ordinary time once more. In a few short weeks, Lent arrives and we journey into a season of prayer, penitence and examination of the heart. I wonder how each of us will embrace this challenge? How will we journey with Christ this Lenten season as we travel the tumultuous road of the Easter narrative to the great and glorious climax of Easter Day?
One thing that can make this journey profoundly heart-changing is by embarking on it together, rather than alone. Thus, on Wednesday 27 February at 7.30pm, this year’s Ecumenical Lent Groups begin at the Salvation Army Church, lasting six weeks and focusing upon the TV series ‘Broken’. Written by Jimmy McGovern and starring Sean Bean, it is set in an estate parish somewhere in the UK. The series focuses on the life and ministry of Father Michael Kerrigan, a Roman Catholic priest who, despite past trauma and anxiety about his own inadequacies, attempts to bring the light of Christ into the lives of the people amongst whom he ministers. The series portrays real life at its most gritty and unvarnished, and in doing so raises many questions along the way about how to live faithfully when life is very hard.
Each session will involve prayer, watching an episode, discussing in small groups questions that arise and thinking about where God is in the midst of the heartache and brokenness portrayed. There are no right answers, rather this course is an opportunity to open our hearts afresh to where God may be found in the brokenness of the world, the communities in which we live and serve, and within ourselves.
Jesus himself knew what it was to be ‘broken’. During Epiphany we remembered together the gifts of the wise men - one of which was myrrh, an embalming lotion for bodies of those who had passed away and a prophetic symbol that one day this tiny baby would grow up, and His body would be broken for the sins of the world. The theologian Karl Barth described Jesus as ‘the Son of God who went into the far country’. In other words, the God who doesn’t stand removed from humanity but, rather, the God who enters into the dirt, the mess and danger of the world and of human lives. The God who sits with us in those dark places and who is present in the heartache, despair and tears - the God who doesn’t run away.
Yet He offers us hope in those dark and broken parts of this world and of ourselves - that resurrection has and will come. Jesus is nailed to a rugged cross and His body is broken for the sins of the whole world, yet this isn’t where the story ends. Death is conquered and Christ rises from the dead - bringing hope and healing to a world in need. We remember this each week with the words “this is my body broken for you”, with the belief that, as hands are stretched out and broken lives handed over to Him, He hands them back to us changed and renewed. As He hands Himself to us in bread and wine, we dare to believe that His presence, His peace, and His touch can transform us and this world.
Do we dare to believe this Lenten season that nothing is too broken for the One who was broken for us? Do we dare to believe that His brokenness and resurrection has the power to transform our brokenness and the brokenness of this world?
Then dare to come.

Kimberley Mannings

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Revd. Peter Cowley writes …... February 2019 Magazine,

Dear Friends,

Uncertainty seems to be in the air and especially in the House of Commons as I have just witnessed the great vote on the Brexit deal that the government has lost!
The feast of Candlemas will be upon on when you read this! It is when Christ was presented in the Temple and a sacrifice made of a dove, or pigeon, as thanksgiving for his birth in Bethlehem. It marks the end of the forty days of the Christmas season in the church year.
The certainty of this feast is based on the Old Testament rites of passage for a member of the Jewish faith at that time, Mary and Joseph fulfilled the law! Certainty in doing so and of being able to do what was right for their son.
Candlemas so named because the early church used to bless all the candles to be used for the following year!
In our lives we have all gone through our own rites of passage be it baptism, birthdays, especially certain special ones, 13 to be a teenager, 18 to come of age! And others, I had one last year when I was 65 and retired from paid work! Other events in life like marriage or partnership as they are these days are marked in anniversaries, and certain ones get messages from Her Majesty the Queen. My mother and father in law have just celebrated 65 years of married life and have two cards from the Queen proudly framed in their living room. Sandra had to apply for the card, and I had to obtain a marriage certificate for them to prove they had been married that long!
We all need some certainty in our lives, love, care security, sometimes it may be easy, others difficult, to accept.
Jesus says that He is the one who can give us certainty if we believe in him as God’s Son the Saviour and our friend and his love for each of us for who we are!
This certainty of salvation in Jesus is hope for us all! Unlike Brexit which I hope is somewhat clearer now than when I wrote this letter.
Blessing of Candlemas to you all.

Peter Cowley

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   Revd. Jeff Engel writes ….. January 2019 Magazine,

The police stopped a man in Eccleston Street at 3 o’clock New Year’s morning. “Where are you going at this time of night?” asked a policeman. “I’m going to a lecture.” “Who would give a lecture at this time of night?” persisted the policeman suspiciously. “My wife” came the prompt reply!
We all have different ways of greeting the New Year. Indeed, it is said that ‘an optimist stays up to see the New Year in; a pessimist waits to make sure the old one leaves.’ Talking with people in the parish I know that quite a few worry about what the New Year may bring. With Brexit, President Trump, and the increasing influence of China, things are not exactly predictable at national level either! Over 200 years ago John Wesley copied a special Service from the Moravians, the Watch Night Service, so Methodists could meet on New Year’s Eve to thank God for the blessing of the outgoing year and pray for divine favour throughout the upcoming year. (History buffs will know that the Watch Night took on special significance for African American slaves in 1862, when Abraham Lincoln announced that he would declare their Emancipation on New Year’s Day 1863). So, the New Year can bring Good News! For sound reasons we will not be holding a Watch Night Service at St Mary’s but it is a Godly practice to take a little time as you greet the New Year to thank God for the blessing of the outgoing year and pray for His help throughout the upcoming year.
Sadly 2018 was, for many, a difficult year. Indeed, some felt confused and helpless in the face of daily reports from the Yemen, the Middle East, etc., not to mention negotiations over Britain’s place in the world and adjustments like Universal Credit to our welfare system! But, as Christians, we need to resist the easy path of giving up hope. First, we must not lose sight of our own spiritual growth in all this mess. G.K. Chesterton put it rather grandly: “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.” We must make sure the world we can control is a happy and fruitful place. Each of us can do this by taking the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ seriously and learning to practice each of them in 2019. They include: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.…’ If we make these our daily and prayerful requests we will make our small world a far better place for ourselves as well as our families and friends. It has to be our ‘daily prayer’ because this determination must be more than the usual New Year Resolution that ‘goes in one year and out the other’!!
May God bless you in 2019 and do remember the power of prayer. Please keep our world leaders, as well yourselves and neighbours, in your prayers, and whenever possible find the love and support of the praying community for yourself by coming to Church.

Jeff Engle

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Revd. John Taylor writes …. December 2018 Magazine,


Now that we have a member of the clergy team, who is female and decades younger than the rest of the staff, I find myself facing some deep and puzzling questions. Such as, ‘Is it appropriate to wear Christmas pudding earrings during Advent’ or ‘Is it suitable to wear nail varnish with glitter during Lent! These are issues that the Reverends Peter, Jeff and I have never faced before. At least never in public!
Pondering these youthful weighty issues made me think of a quote from a German theologian and philosopher called Meister Eckhart, who lived in the middle Ages. He said: ‘God is the one who is forever young.’
We are used to thinking of God as unchanging, the Ancient of Days. But it is the God who is forever young who brings new worlds into being and has the power to transform.
God’s Word spoke at the dawn of creation and the universe born; and this month we will once again celebrate this mighty creative Word, who in the form of a child is born into the world he created.
The birth of the Christ Child heralds the transformational hope of the young. ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’ The good news is that we are all favoured by God; we are made in his image.
Meister Eckhart also said: “We are celebrating the feast of the Eternal Birth which God the Father has borne and never ceases to bear in all eternity... But if it takes not place in me, what avails it? Everything lies in this, that it should take place in me.”
May the love of the Christ Child be born in all of our hearts this Christmas
.

John Taylor  

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  Revd. Kimberley Mannings writes …... NOVEMBER 2018 Magazine,

Sunday 25 November is the Feast of Christ the King, when churches around the world will remember afresh that Christ is the King of this Universe. This year, 25 November is also the day of the Toy Service – an all-age service where children and adults alike will bring brand new toys to the Parish Church which will be offered up to God as an act of worship and then given to homeless families within our parish, through the wonderful work and provision of Yates Court.
You may think it odd for these two events to coincide: a Feast Day and a Toy Service, yet I don’t think Christ would have found it strange at all.
In the Old Testament, God promises the Jewish people a Messiah – someone who would be sent by God to save them, to free them and to bring them home. As time went on, the Jewish people’s vision or picture of this person grew. He would be a warrior who would fight for them and would win every battle. He would punish their enemies and free the people. He would be a descendant of King David, one of the greatest of the Jewish kings, so he would be royal, rich and powerful, riding on a beautiful white horse. He would save his people, so he would become their Saviour.
1500 years later the Messiah does indeed come – but he takes his people by surprise. He is born to an unmarried mother in an unimportant Northern town called Bethlehem. He grows up to be an apprentice carpenter who gains a reputation as a travelling preacher, riding on a donkey. He is arrested by the Romans as a troublemaker, is humiliated, tortured and sentenced to death.
But His death is not the end.
This Messiah is the Son of God and his death and resurrection conquer death itself, bringing liberation and hope to a world in need. This Son of God, Jesus Christ, lays aside his crown to walk among us, to wash the feet of many, and to meet people where they are at in their walk of life.
And He calls us to do the same.
So as we look to Christ the King on 25 November, we look to the Christ who is both King and Servant, to whom everything on Heaven and on Earth belongs yet who walks beside you and me. As we present our gifts to Him that day, to be used for His glory and to serve and bless others, may we give to Him everything we have, everything we are, and everything we ever hope to be.

Kimberley Mannings  

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Revd. Peter Cowley writes …...OCTOBER 2018 Magazine,

Dear Friends,
This time of the year the world of nature is changing from its bright summer colours to its russet and golden colours of autumn. The grim branches defunct of foliage give a dark and dull winter outlook until the snow comes and covers it all in a white magical beauty. Cold and bitter it can be at times, just remember the ‘beast from the east’ earlier this year!
As well as the autumn ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ as Keats puts it, for some it is a time of new starts at schools, colleges, universities or apprenticeships as they begin a new phase of life! It is also a time of reflection as we remember the past and all that goes with that at the end of October with Halloween etc,.
I have just returned from a four day retreat at a Retreat house attached to the Community of the Resurrection Mirfield; the theme was of life and contradictions in the faith we follow. We used verses from the bible of words said by God, or Jesus, to people - they are called Dominican sayings. “I will restore you” was one used as a contemplative exercise. I was struck by the way in which all things can become unused, useless and unable to be used but that things can be brought back to use by being restored. A simple polish and clean-up by a craftsperson using their skills can bring a thing back into a useful state like the daytime TV programme ‘Money for Nothing’, in which objects bound for the tip are restored to a new use. Then they are useful.
I was thinking that sometimes I need to be restored at times and a retreat was, and is, a great way to be able to take time to see how you need to be restored and made new again in certain aspects of your life or spiritual life.
This is a challenge for all of us as we need to keep ourselves fresh and renewed. Just as trees can shed old leaves and then grow new fresh leaves in spring, so too we can restore ourselves in Jesus so that we are renewed and full of hope and enthusiasm for our faith life.
Give it a go - even a few moments thinking about how you can come to Jesus for some rest and recreation and to be restored.
Or why not try the up-coming Parish Weekend in November – just talk to one of the clergy.
Yours in Christ

 Yours in Christ Peter Cowley

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Revd. John Taylor writes in September 2018 Magazine,

Over the past months it has been very interesting the number of people who have asked me why the tower and spire are covered in scaffold. There is a genuine interest in the wider community about what is happening to the Parish Church, as a building. People’s understanding of what this building represents will differ according to their experience. On an ordinary Sunday the thousands of people who live in our parish may seem to have little, or no need, of their parish church; but that isn’t the whole picture.
There are times in everyone’s life when we need to acknowledge that there is more to life than what we can touch and see. Occasions like birth, death and marriage - the celebration of human relationships - bring us into contact with forces beyond ourselves. Those extra dimensions of human experience, those spiritual experiences remind us that we are not the centre of the universe.
At such times people are closer to God whether they realise it or not, and at such times many want and need their parish church.
Here at St Mary’s and at St Paul’s such people are made welcome. Yet it is not enough to say we will baptise your children, bless your marriages and celebrate the lives of those who have died. It is not enough to say come to us for hope and consolation, if all that we can offer is a kind pious fiction. The basis of our welcome, and our existence as a church, is that the Christian faith is true. There is a God who is interested in each one of us, and we have seen his love in the life of Jesus Christ.
God can, and will, use each of us to make the world a better place if we allow him. This month we celebrate our Patronal Festival, when we remember Mary saying ‘yes’ to the will of God; a yes which brought Salvation into our world.
John Taylo
r  

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  Revd. Kimberley Mannings writes …... AUGUST 2018 Magazine,

Dear all,
My name’s Kim/Kimberley (take your pick!) and I’m the new curate at Prescot Parish Church and St Paul’s. I have been overwhelmed over the past few weeks by the incredibly warm welcome I have received and the kindness shown to my husband Stephen and I. Thank you so much for your hospitality, the fantastic cake, the beautiful Pentecost stole which I will treasure forever, and for being so lovely and welcoming to the two of us.
A little bit about me: I’m 28 years old (although still get asked for ID when buying paracetamol!) and am originally from Huyton but moved around a bit for university and teacher training before eventually returning to Liverpool to begin a teaching post in 2012. I was a secondary school RE teacher and spent many happy years working in a Catholic all-girls school in Liverpool before beginning ordination training in 2015 (and getting married in the same week!). Towards the end of my training I moved back to my home town of Huyton where I now live with my husband Stephen along with our pride and joy – Philly, our seven-year-old rescue greyhound!
I have had a wonderful three weeks of getting to know people and attempting to learn the geography of Prescot (including the very important ‘which hill leads to which place!’). I can scarcely believe that it was only three weeks ago that I was ordained Deacon at Liverpool Cathedral (on 24 June).
Someone asked me recently whether or not there was one particular moment within the ordination service that impacted me most profoundly, and immediately my mind transported me back to one instant. I had just been ordained and was kneeling at the altar rails while a cantor from the cathedral choir sang over us, invoking the Holy Spirit to come. In that moment I looked up at the East window above the High Altar and noticed that at the top of this magnificent stained-glass window is a smaller, round window bearing an image of the risen Christ. In all of the hours I have spent in the cathedral prior to that day I had never noticed that window.
So, why was this precise moment so significant? For me, it was the great reminder that Christ goes before us, always. That, whatever situations in life we may ever find ourselves in, He stands above them all, and we are never, ever alone. A reminder that we cannot bear the weight of His calling upon each of our lives in our own strength, but can rest safely in the knowledge that when we fix our eyes on Him, He is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Kimberley Mannings

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Revd. Peter Cowley writes …...July 2018

Dear Friends,
On the last Sunday of last month, we went to the cathedral to attend the Ordination Service in which our new Curate the Revd Kimberley Manning was made a Deacon in the Church of God. Ten years ago, on the last Sunday of June 2008, on St Peter’s Day, I too was made a Deacon, so it brought back many happy memories for me of my own ordination.
It is the culmination for a person of many years of discernment and of testing the vocation of someone to be ordained. Then comes a lot of study and placements and thinking through all that it means to be ordained it seems to go on forever with no end.
Calling and vocation is something that all of us should think about and we should ask ourselves what God is calling me to do for him; what is my vocation to be and how should I develop it for his service to others in love.
I cannot talk about other people’s vocation it is up to them and God to see the way forward for them. I know that my own vocation began from when I was 19 years old and first felt called to be a candidate for the Church Army. Thus began my journey which led to my ordination thirty years later and my coming to Prescot twenty-one years ago last month.
I have to say that people tend not to understand the way ordination is; and the process of being a Deacon is one that is, in a way, lost in the folklore of being a Vicar. A Vicar is an office, or post, that someone holds e.g. Vicar of Prescot, Vicar of Huyton etc. But most people think all of us with clerical collars are vicars – we are not!
A Deacon is defined as: ‘Deacons are to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes in love…. They are to work with their fellow members in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible.’ (Ordination of Deacons: The Greeting. Common Worship).
Let us all pray for Kimberley as she begins her new life as a Deacon and also her husband. We are all called by God and the Deacon’s Greeting could also apply to all of us for what God wants us to do in spreading the good news of love to the people we are in touch with and who we have to serve.
Yours in Christ

 Yours in Christ Peter Cowley

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Revd. John Taylor writes …...June 2018

The seasons of the year are moving on apace and I suppose we are now in late spring and rapidly approaching early summer.
The Church’s seasons are also moving rapidly, and are now in what someone described (possibly Sir John Betjeman) as the long green days of Trinity. Unless there is a festival or a saint’s day, the coloured hangings and altar frontals are green and we remain green until the Kingdom Season in November.
Green is the colour of hope, life and growth. It is easily identified with the natural world around us, which is springing back into the fullness of life.
This time of the Church’s year is also known as ‘ordinary time’. Personally I don’t think that is a good name, as no day is ordinary. Every day is someone’s birthday or anniversary and most importantly, every day is a gift. We don’t have tomorrow as a right.
The following prayer is used at the start of the service of Morning Prayer each day:

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever. Amen

If we can learn to rejoice in each new day and have our hearts on fire with love for God and each other, what a difference it would make to our lives.
Perhaps we should all have a go at using this prayer and let’s see what happens!

John Taylor

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Revd. Jeff Engel writes …... May 2018 Magazine,

CHURCH OF ENGLAND CALLING? CHURCH OF ENGLAND CALLING? …..
Have you ever wondered if God might be calling you to new or special work in His Service? Vocation Sunday on 22 April may have stirred you to give some thought and prayer to your calling as a Christian. Now Bishop Paul is hosting a day on Tuesday 8 May to help people discern what is their calling. It will be a daytime meeting when you can ask questions and talk with others who are also thinking about where God is leading them. Being an ordained minister isn’t just one type of thing. As well as ‘full-time vicars’ there are people, full-time and part-time, serving God in a wide variety of different roles. And there are a lot of different ways you can train for ordination!
This letter is not only addressed directly to those whom God may be calling, it is addressed to our whole Church family. I speak from personal experience! Years ago I was quite content counselling and working with students. I had lots of opportunities to travel, at home and abroad, as a trainer and as an External Examiner. It was members of the congregation where I worshipped in Southport who spoilt it all! Several times parishioners asked me if I had ever thought about becoming a Vicar. Reluctantly, I went to a Church of England Selection Board. It was then I really realised that I just had to work more directly for the Church and for God. People round me could see more clearly what I could not discern myself! Do get your thinking cap on and look prayerfully not only at yourself but also at the people around you in our Church Family.
If ordained ministry is not for you, do not forget that Prescot Church offers lots of ways in which you could serve both church and the community. Perhaps you could steward as a Sidesperson, contribute through the PCC, Sunday school, or by welcoming people through the Church Office or Baptisms, catering or guiding, singing or serving, reading or interceding in church, knitting Prayer Shawls, home visiting or running organisations like the Mothers’ Union.
Have I missed out some of the many church activities in which parishioners are working to bring God’s love and hope to others? I am sure I have! (after all what about the Church Shop and all who produce this Magazine and the Newsletter!!). But we all need to be thinking both “inside the box” and “outside the box”. Any ideas – for yourself or for others? All contributions will be gratefully received! Nurturing our individual calls to service is vital if we want to share the Good News of the Gospel and sustain our church in the future.
Love and God bless,

Jeff Engle

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Revd. Peter Cowley writes …... APRIL 2018 Magazine,

Dear Friends,
Easter is upon us and we are celebrating the core of the Christian Faith, the death and resurrection of our dear Saviour Jesus.
Each year we go through the desert of Lent to the Festival of Easter and we greet each other with:


“The Lord is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!
Alleluia!!!”

But do we know, and reason, with what we are doing? Do you and I have the faith to believe that it is so?
I love the pilgrimage of Lent and I always buy a Lent book, this year it was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book on prayer called ‘Say it to God’ by Luigi Gioia. He says that prayer is all about us having, not only an asking and thanking prayer, but also a prayer that is a relationship with God that is two ways and that we need to be able to be with God in Jesus Christ.
Easter is all about the heart of the relationship that we each have with God in Christ. Good Friday was not an easy time for Jesus as we see from what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane when he talked to his Father and asked for the cup to be taken away from him, but that he would do God’s will and go on the cross and all the humiliation that went with the Passion.
All the various elements of the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus are, in reality, about a relationship and relationships of Jesus to God, Jesus and the disciples, his followers and his mother who had her heart pierced at the foot of the cross. But Jesus still had a relationship with her and looked after her on the cross when he asked John to care for her and her to care for John as if they were mother and son. That speaks volumes about relationships.
So we need to - if we can - have a relationship with Jesus; prayer is that communication base of being able to be with him and to have a two way communication with him in order to have a deeper and a normal relationship.
Easter shows the wonderful love of God in Jesus and we need to respond!!


Will you?
Happy and Blessed Easter to you all.

Peter Cowley

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