So, for the first time in my lifetime, Europe finds itself at war. This is not the place for a full analysis of what is happening, but can I simply suggest four duties for those of us who are Christians.
First, we need to be aware. In many ways this is a wake-up call for the church. We have followed too closely the naive philosophy of the world that there is nothing so seriously wrong with human beings that science and prosperity will not cure.
This appalling invasion of Ukraine demonstrates the sad biblical truth that human beings are inclined to evil and that only the grace of God in Christ can truly bring peace.
We have been inclined to consider evil to belong to fantasy realms such as Narnia and Middle-Earth. The sad reality is that evil, whether subtle or blatant, is present in our world.
Second, we have the duty of prayer. We are those who believe in a God who answers prayer and who reigns over all the world. Let us bring the situation to him. Let us pray for those who are at this moment frightened and fearful. Let us pray against those powers who wish for evil to be done.
Pray for wisdom and unity among those leaders who must oppose the Russian invasion. Let us remember in prayer that one of the sad predictabilities of warfare is that the unpredictable is inevitable. These are very dangerous times.
Third, we have the duty of care. We must never forget that the prime Christian virtue is that of love. We need to lift up to our heavenly Father all those, whether in Ukraine or in Russia, who are caught up in this conflict.
But we must be prepared to do more than just simply pray. Although much of the suffering will be beyond our immediate aid, there will in the days ahead be opportunities for practical giving and caring.
There must be a temptation for people to try to ignore the news and try to forget what is happening. We who are Christians do not have this option. We need to be involved.
Finally, we have a duty to share. One of the very few positive things about this conflict is that it is a reminder that this world is not a playground but a battleground. We will be talking with those who are scared and troubled about the state of the world. In this darkness comes an opportunity to share the light of Christ and the only lasting hope of peace in this world.