Jesus read from the scriptures - "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." (Isaiah 61:1 ... Luke 4:18)

My music knowledge is very limited. I don't listen to much modern music, even worse, I'm ashamed to admit, that I don't listen to much music at all, but there are some song lyrics that stick in your mind. One from my past is, "It's Good News week" by Hedgehoppers Anonymous, and the first verse goes, "It's good news week, someone's dropped a bomb somewhere contaminating atmosphere and blackening the sky." Words from the 1960's but we can wonder how much has changed. This year we have become more aware of the increasing hostility between India and Pakistan. Wars continue and today there are twenty-eight countries either involved in war or who are experiencing armed conflicts within their borders. In 2019 it is estimated that one country is dropping an explosive with a strength you can hardly comprehend once every 12 minutes.

If I turn on the news, or read the paper, there is usually bad news facing me from persecution to fleeing refugees, from knife crime to terrorism, and of course we can't forget Brexit (writing this before March 29th I wonder what will happen). So much bad news. Little good news, but then we often appear to be happier to hear bad news than good. One commercial newspaper that started out to give us good news was scrapped because there was no demand for it!

However, despite what we may think there is good news out there. We can be thankful to our local free magazines such as 'In Touch' as they carry us good news about our community and its people. We can rejoice at the work Michelle does with our own Monday Community Brew with more and more people coming to share in a time together. Wider afield we can hear good news from Tools with a Mission where they are enabling people to earn a living and support themselves and their families. We can hear good news from Christian Aid which works with local partners and communities to fight injustice, respond to humanitarian emergencies, campaign for change, and help people claim the services and rights they are entitled to. We can look close at home and all around the world and there is good work going on to ensure good news does exist.

At Stowmarket we have been following a Lent Course entitled "Daring to see God now" and the first session was "The Good News of God." Jesus grew up in a land occupied by the brutal soldiers of the Roman Imperial Army. He had no illusions about what the world was like, he lived in the real world and experienced life as a real person. But he had a message of good news, a message that was taken around the world. He didn't ignore the bad news around him but worked to change things and offered a better way of life for all.

This Easter we remember how Jesus died for us and rose again for us. He brought good news to the world and those who hear his news and act on it have their lives changed forever.

May you all receive, and share with others, the good news of our Lord and Saviour this Easter time.

Anne Scarff (Secretary to Stowmarket group of Churches)

April 2019