As I am writing this, so many thoughts are competing for space in my head.
Do I write a column to say thank you to all those that took part in our Community Day and speak about further opportunities to be involved in missionary discipleship through PEG?
Do I write to encourage you all to pray for those who are being baptised or have recently taken that step of faith?
Do I need to cover the general election that is about to take place?
Do I need to give you details about what will be happening during my sabbatical?
Each of these things is important, but all I can think about today is the photograph of an 8-year-old girl whose life was ended by a bomb at a concert. Many of us have lived through some terrible events. I grew up in the shadow of the Second World War but many of you lived through it. The town where I lived was directly affected by the IRA terror campaign of the Seventies. We lived less than half a mile from Ross McWhirter, who was assassinated by them on his own doorstep. Since that time, we have seen atrocity after atrocity played out on our televisions. The recent attacks in France seemed terrible but a little distant. The Westminster attack was much closer to home.
Now we have Manchester. This deliberate targeting of young people seems like the most terrible kind of crime. Words cannot express the vileness of this act and depth of evil that is exposed by it. Many of us find ourselves simply asking: ‘What kind of man does something like this?’
In these situations, it is easy for people to give in to anger and despair, but that is not the message that we bring. The world can be a place of terrible evil but evil will not triumph. Indeed, we have also seen extraordinary kindness and heroism in the face of these events.
So our reaction to these events must be to recommit ourselves to expressing God’s love in a world of hurt, and living out Jesus’ victory in a world that is broken.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 is so familiar to us, yet never more needed for his world.
Yours in Christ,