Headlines

What is the church for? This is not a major public question in the UK these days but when it arises, the answers vary from interesting to concerning.

'Community benefit' is a key phrase - the church is to serve the needs of the community and to provide the space/facilities for what people want to do, irrespective of whether or not these are God's priorities.

'Social conscience' is another - the church is to be the voice of compassion in society and act as a political spur to government.

When there is not enough money, what do you do?

The war in Ukraine, energy prices, commodity shortages, and inflationary economic realities have all reduced the amount of personal disposable income.

As families tighten their belts to meet food, fuel and mortgage costs, what is happening to Christian giving?

Commenting on the Coronation of King Charles III, TV historian Professor David Olusoga from the University of Manchester said, "I think it's more difficult with a thousand-year-old [religious] ceremony to reflect the fact that we are one of the most secular nations in the world."

How can a service of worship to the Triune God, to whom the monarch professes his allegiance, find an Amen among the hearts of multi-faith and secular subjects?

After more than 70 years of our late Queen's reign, King Charles III will be crowned this month. A lot has happened since 1953 when the glamour of the 26 year old Queen's coronation took the post-war world by storm and half the population of the UK watched - many on the new 12 inch black and white TV sets.

A fresh and youthful dynamic prevailed, and the event marked the beginning of a new age of united hope with a national service of worship at the centre of the coronation. The country honoured the sovereign as anointed by God.

It is very difficult, or perhaps impossible, to find a picture which adequately describes the joy and hope of Easter.

Much of the Western church has become used to being comfortable. We enjoy our fellowship and teaching in church and home groups, youth camps, family and senior activities; but we like to stay out of the danger zone.

Where is the danger?

It may not be really dangerous but it feels risky; we might not be liked and we fear some friends might turn their backs on us; or we could be professionally 'cancelled'.

Despite the wars and rumours of wars, which Jesus predicted, along with natural disasters, persecution, false teaching, backsliding and apostasy, the Gospel still stands as humanity's only answer (Matthew 24:4-14).

That passage concludes: "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

We start the New Year with obvious and hidden dangers. The newsworthy war against Ukraine is clearly evil, but like icebergs - many of the world's dangers lie under the surface, hidden and unreported, but powerfully controlling.

Last year we mourned the death of her late Majesty The Queen. The Archbishop of York said that her personal modesty and 'lack of self' came from her consciousness that, while she was a queen to whom others bowed and curtsied, she would always bend the knee to One greater than any, Almighty God.

Christmas time and candles seem to go together. In these strange days when Ukraine is plunging into the darkness of war, precipitating energy poverty throughout Europe, the light and heat of a candle is a symbol of hope.

But is this warming little light merely: a sentimental idea, an ornamental pleasantry, or a sacramental ritual?  It is only God's truthful Word that will change dark hearts.

Overseas readers may be forgiven for feeling somewhat confused if they look at recent political events in the UK.  The people, the parliamentary party and the party membership have decided who will rule them.  But to have four Prime Ministers in four years, is quite a democratic achievement.  It says that people choose the leaders they like and then dispose of them when their choice becomes a disappointment.