Happy New Year to you and to all your family. As we go out into 2020 I’d like to do two things. First, introduce our Spring sermon series. Hopefully you will have noticed that on Sundays we have begun studying John’s Gospel. We usually follow the set readings - the lectionary - along with most other congregations within the Church, but we have stepped away from the lectionary for a short period in order to focus on one gospel, and a gospel which the lectionary doesn’t have time to focus on. The Gospel of John is an amazing book, and in many ways is very different to the other three, with some unique stories told in a unique way. The Gospel is divided into two parts: the Book of Signs (Chapters 1-11) which focuses on seven miracles which show us who Jesus is, and then the Book of Glory (Chapters 12-21) where God the Father is shown to glorify His Son; all of this is done for a purpose and the purpose is revealed only towards the end. John’s Gospel is written: ‘that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ Here is the reason for all of John’s work, and here is our reason for studying this Gospel as we approach Easter. We hope that many people might realise who Jesus is, believe that He is the Son of God, and so put their trust in Him and in doing so receive the life which only He can give. Perhaps this is the first time you’ve ever sat down as an adult and thought through who Jesus claims to be; perhaps you did that long ago and this will be a useful refresher; or perhaps you spend time with non-Christian neighbours, colleagues, and friends, and thinking through a book with such a clear purpose may help you in your witness to them. Wherever you are in your walk with Christ, I hope that this study will help you grow in your faith, help you approach Easter with fresh clarity, and help you as you seek to live out and explain your faith before an increasingly unbelieving world.
The second thing I’d like to do is to offer my profound thanks to all of those who have worked and continue to work so hard in our parish. Over the past few months we have had many encouragements, and many happy occasions thanks in large part to the work of so many who often go unacknowledged. 2019 saw a great number of young people confirmed; a Back2School Sunday service which welcomed so many children and consequently ran out of sausage butties; a fantastic Harvest social which was packed out and included new people in a fun and friendly atmosphere; a Christmas Fayre which took a huge amount of organising and produced some fantastic results; a murder mystery (thankfully fictional) which delighted audiences; and a Safeguarding Training evening which helped ensure many people not only in our congregation by also our deanery are better equipped to protect vulnerable children and adults. On top of that we have been able to host some wonderful charity events, have our fantastic choir show off their skills both in our Advent services but also our Deanery Nine Lessons & Carol Service, whilst a scratch choir entertained the shoppers in Chorley market and invited them for Christmas. In addition, nearly five thousand Christmas cards were delivered across our parish inviting people to our Christmas services. That we have been able to offer these opportunities is entirely down to the hard working members of our church family, who have used their time, talents, and money to invest in our church and in our town. There are too many to name, and even listing events means I have likely missed out many other fantastic ones, but be assured that your work does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank you to everyone who has contributed, everyone who has planned, and everyone who has sung, and cooked, and delivered, and given of themselves to serve our church and community. You are all fantastic, and make St George’s Church what it is. God Bless, and let’s pray that 2020 will be even better than 2019. (from Rev. Mike)