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 and storm - and just this week, of the plane crash in the Alps with the tragic loss of life, young and old.
How should the Christian 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, 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.
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 practical help.
I conclude with the final verse of an updated version of Brian Wren's hymn Christ is alive let Christians sing.
Christ is alive and comes to bring
good news to this and every age,
till earth and sky and ocean ring
with joy, with justice, love, and praise.
Verse 5 (c) Stainer and Bell Ltd
With best wishes