From many of our windows we have an impressive view of the sky, the ever-changing position of clouds swept by the wind or just left there, hanging in the sky. The vast scope of the sky, out and 'up', in a strange way corrects one's impressions of daily life. But while it may give a counterbalancing context of beauty to those who have a purpose in life to others it may often be an extension of a vast loneliness that they feel in trudging through life which has not been kind to them.

To the ancients, of course, the planets and the stars in the heavens were controlling forces of what went on 'down here' on earth. The placating of these powers was the work of the old religions. Today we may rightly feel that what this amounted to was anxious superstition in the face of the vast forces of the universe as individuals and nations experienced good or evil in daily life. Certainly the authors of the New Testament shared the view that there were arrayed not only against humankind, but also against God, an array of opposing 'powers' which Christ finally conquered through his life, death and vindication by the Father.

Christian faith has always been centred not in an indefinable and unseen power of God - a god 'out there' or a 'god in the sky' - but in the person of Jesus the Lord. This makes the difference when one comes, eventually, to articulate belief in God, for Jesus is the revelation of the Father. It makes the difference to our approach to a God who is not a manipulator of circumstances for our benefit nor for the destruction of one's 'enemies'. The one phrase which sums up the New Testament understanding of what God is like is in the words of the first epistle of John, God so loved the world ...

That this divine love was perfectly manifested in Jesus is clear for all to see in the accounts of the New Testament. It is a stupendous assertion that here, among humankind, the love of God was incarnated. And incarnated not in any exclusive way for a religious sect of any kind. To be a disciple of Jesus is to put one's name to, and base one's life on, Jesus as Lord. He becomes the total ambience of all life. Yes, the beauty of nature surrounding us, or the terrors of a lonely life, cannot detract from the reality of a relationship with the Lord who remakes our lives in his own image of truth and loveliness. In him lies the total reality and meaning of life.

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