Thursday, 31 March 2022

Divided and torn apart

April 2022

Dear Friends

The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently said that “war and violence is never an answer”.  But I am not sure what justification this leader of our national church has for rejecting the understanding that has been shared by Christians for centuries.

Of course war is always truly terrible and the immense suffering of people on both sides of the current conflict is heart-rending.  But if an invader begins to wreck your country and inflict horrible suffering on your people, and if he won’t leave when asked politely or pressured in other ways, I wonder what the Archbishop thinks you should do?

From at least the 4th Century onwards Christians have overwhelmingly agreed that defending the nation is a responsibility that God has laid on each ruler or government, and that going to war will sometimes be right.  The wide-ranging tests of a ‘Just War’ have included:

1.       Will our action be defensive, rather than aggressive?

2.       Is war the last resort in this situation?

3.       Will the means we use be in proportion to the threat we face?

4.       Will we avoid targeting civilians?

I’ll leave you to discuss whether those questions have been asked in recent conflicts, including those that our nation has been involved in.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace and every war involves at least one side (and often both) refusing to submit to his loving rule.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace but he has warned us that his kingdom will grow slowly as people, families and nations - one by one - stop fighting against Him and accept his authority in their lives.

For a world that gives up its resistance to Jesus, the end is clear: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

But, while evil continues in the world, being prepared to fight remains a tragic necessity.

“Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all: govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule”  (Prayer for Remembrance Sunday)


Graham Burrows

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Finding hope again

March 2022

Dear Friends

Happiness.  We all look for it.  We know it when we have it, but it’s not easy to find and it’s easily lost.  A sudden ending of a relationship, an unexpected diagnosis, a downturn in business or even a cancelled holiday can result in the happiness draining out of our life like fuel from a punctured tank.

When that happens most of us don’t appreciate the glib reassurances of those who just say that everything will probably turn out OK!  So how is it that some of the best known, and best loved, words of Jesus seem to be a little like that: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted …” (Matthew 5:3-4)

Jesus was not being insensitive or cruel; he was no aloof leader untouched by trouble.  Those in need flocked to him and he helped them. 

Jesus was not saying that all people find a silver lining to their clouds; he was speaking specifically to his disciples - those who were being trained and disciplined by Jesus their boss, who were listening to him and following him. 

And in telling them that everything would be alright in the end, Jesus was not cynically deceiving his new friends.  Had he not just given a foretaste of his power to deliver on his promises when the crowds “brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralysed, and he healed them”? (Matthew 4:24)  All that is truly good will belong to those who trust the Lord Jesus and who walk in his ways even when everything seems to be against them.

Is there any chance that Jesus might actually have the answer to your search for happiness and true blessing?  ‘Hope Explored’ is an informal and relaxed three-week course.  It’s for anyone who wants to find hope, peace and purpose in life.  The next groups of explorers will be meeting on three Thursdays (afternoon or evening) beginning on 17 March and you are very welcome to join us.  Please contact me if you would like to know more or take a look at our church website:


Graham Burrows