My first feeling this morning on hearing the news was one of deep deep sadness for those young and teenage girls with their mums and friends enjoying a night out at a concert. For those who have been so cruelly and killed and injured; for those whose daughters, wives and girlfriends have been torn from them..
I have a family connection with Manchester: my father was born and brought up there, and our daughter was at the University and the Royal Northern College of Music. It's a proud city built on the wealth of the cotton industry and liberal values - there is a statue of William Gladstone in the Town Hall. It withstood the bombs of the Second World War, the IRA (in 1996), and, no doubt, will bounce back defiantly after this latest terrorist outrage.
On Radio 4's Thought for the Day (at 1:48:00) Andrew Graystone talked about 'defiant acts of kindness' that stand in stark contrast to the evil horror of the attack. There is something very British about horrific events bringing out the best in people; but it's not just British - it's human. At its best, the human response to evil is one of good - kindness, bravery, help, hospitality. Whatever provoked the killer to do this terrible act - perhaps some extreme interpretation of Islam - it was not human; it can only be described as evil and dark.
Events like this force us to confront evil in all its horror. And this form of evil seems to glory in death, which is described in the bible as 'the final enemy'.
Way back in history as the Israelites were preparing to cross into the promised land, Moses spoke these words from God to them: "This day I call on heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live..." (Deuteronomy 30:19).
The Gospel - the Good News - is that hope triumphs over despair, love triumphs over fear and life triumphs over death. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life in all its fullness... I am the resurrection and the life."
Today, let us choose life.