The media is frequently dominated by sad news. Over recent weeks we have had a constant stream of sorrow from around the world: of people being killed and injured as a result of war and conflict; of the suffering caused by drought, storm and earthquakes, news of bombings in Belgium with the tragic loss of life, young and old. Our own Church community has also had its fair share of sadness recently.
How should we as Christians respond?
For me, one of the most helpful passages in the Bible is Jesus' sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth, where he read and preached on words from the prophet Isaiah (Luke 4: 14). Jesus identified himself as the bringer of good news to the poor; the liberator of the captives; the person who bound up the broken hearted; the bringer of joy to the sorrowful. These are values by which Christ's followers, too, are called to live. We can begin in our home communities where there are many sad and lonely people who need our love. Further afield the ways in which we can respond individually are more limited, but we can give from our own resources and through our prayers. The important thing is that we stand beside those who are suffering and do respond in some way.
Christians are also called to face injustice and cruelty head-on as Jesus did. For those following his way it may lead, as it did for Jesus, to suffering, even death. We live in a world where human self-interest is still a powerful force which needs to be confronted daily with the power of God's love. However, we do not embark on this task in our own strength, but in the light of our Easter faith which shows how God, through Jesus, has defeated the powers of selfishness, wickedness and hate. This is the supreme message we can take to the world, together with our practical help.
I conclude with the final verse of an updated version of Brian Wren's hymn Christ is alive let Christians sing.