Dear Church Family,
 
Do you feel that this lockdown is quite different from the last one? The days are shorter, it’s colder and we just don’t know how long it’s going to last. It feels quite different from the last one. I feel for parents at home trying to support their children with school work and do their own job as well. It isn’t easy for teachers either, as they teach children in the actual classroom and the virtual classroom. And of course, we are very much behind the NHS at this time as they face such huge challenges. I have been struck this week how the book of Ruth is so relevant as we respond to the turmoil all around us as well as our own personal challenges. Ruth found a refuge in God and Boaz puts it beautifully, ‘May you be rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’
 
On Sunday we will continue with our series on the book of Ruth. We have a slot for the children in the service, prayers led by one of the families and a dramatized reading. In the evening zoom service, we are up to chapter three in ‘The Little Him Book’. By the way, I have two copies left for anyone who would like one – they are free and I can deliver or post it to you. You don’t have to attend the evening service to get one! The Growth Groups are following a programme of study which reflects the Sunday sermons on Ruth, so if you would like to join a group please let the office know. This week there were three new people joining Growth Groups!
 
The following Sunday (24th January 2021) is a World Focus Sunday and we are looking at the world of fostering and adoption. We are fortunate to have a speaker from each of the  two leading Christian organisations concerned with adoption and fostering in the UK: Home for Good and Safer Families. We will be hearing about some of the work that is being undertaken in Preston to avoid the need for children to go into care by volunteers supporting families.
 
Please do have a look at  ‘Church without Walls’ here – you may be surprised to see how much is going on during the week at St Stephen’s even though the building is not open. It also shows just how much we have all embraced social media as a way to connect with each other.
 
Have a very good weekend and look forward to being with you for our online service on Sunday. My prayer is that each one of us will discover the shelter and refuge we can find under God’s wings.
 
Yours as ever,
 
Dave
 
Rev Dave Hanson
Vicar Preston St Stephen