Just recently the news headlines have seemed so horrific that we might be forgiven for thinking we had the horror channel on the television by mistake. Two teenagers had stabbed another 28 times --unbelievable, yes but this happened last year and it was their sentencing that has hit the headlines. But more than this and I must confess rather to my surprise much space has been given to the mother of the victim, Brianna Gley, Esther Gley, and not just to her asking for further changes to the use of iPhones and social media by young people but to her reaching out to the parents of the perpetrators in understanding and compassion.

There have of course been other horrific events, the man who threw alkali over a woman and her children. And there are now less frequent updates of war in Ukraine and the Middle East. Terrible forest fires in Chile barely get a mention.

The news of the King's cancer diagnosis and the rush back from America of I hope (rather unchristian of me?) his guilt-ridden son has taken the headlines this morning along with dental waiting lists.

It must be hard to put all those items together and give each the respect and gravitas they deserve. I have taken to occasionally watching Newswatch on the BBC on Saturday mornings when the BBC news programmes get a heady dose of criticism.

So, what should the Christian response be to the news?

Prayer, you might answer, and indeed most Christian church services have a slot called "prayers of Intercession", where we are asked to pray for the trouble spots of the world and those in need.

Also,  in the Lord's Prayer we ask for forgiveness and the ability to forgive those who do harm to us.

Next week marks the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday clashing with St Valentines Day!

Lent is the period of six weeks, the church used as a preparation for Easter. Traditionally it was a period of prayer and fasting, echoing Jesus' trials in the wilderness. Now although many people still give up things for Lent, the tendency now is to try and do something, where they are often seen as lacking instead. So, when going to give up chocolate donate to a food bank (you could still give it up of course !)

Each of the major denominations has a theme for individuals and groups to follow. In some localities churches combine and this is a good opportunity to reinforce any teaching.

If as Christians we follow Jesus' example and not only pray but seek to put what we pray for into action we might succeed in making our world a better place ,even if we don't make the headlines !

Empathy and compassion are important precursors for forgiveness and are perhaps all the more remarkable in today's society where they are often seen as lacking.

 Rosemary A Baker