Any Questions? Any Answers?

Radio 4 first broadcast the show, Any Questions? in October 1948. In the midst of post-war austerity, people were asking questions regarding the social and economic recovery at home as well as questioning the wider geo-political reconciliation between the family of nations. Topical discussion has flowed ever since and has been the focus of important opinion and debate through many disasters and crises. The companion programme, Any Answers? began its life in 1954 and has since then taken on the ensuing debates from Any Questions? and tackled them through listeners phoning into the show.

Ann Atkins, the columnist and author appeared this week on another Radio 4 standard, Thought for the Day on the Today Programme. Atkins used the refrain, “But what are the answers?” as she listed a whole panoply of questions, challenges and crises that the world is currently facing. Her point was that we don’t always have answers to the questions but the Christian faith does give us a narrative of ‘God with us’ in Jesus in our struggles to find the answers to questions which emerge from evil and suffering existing in the world. We have choices, she argues, choices which will answer many of the fundamental questions of our day. Choices to welcome the refugee, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless.

It might well be the case that the existential questions which are raging at this time can be ‘answered’ through the careful following of Jesus’ teaching. We may well be able to answer many of the questions which cause so much pain and distress. We have been given the free-will to make history ourselves, to make society ourselves, to make welfare ourselves.

Advent is a season when we peer forwards, watching and waiting. We look at the world in all of its need and appeal to God for help. In and through all of our questions we seek recovery from our plight and appeal for reconciliation and justice. Like the prophets of old, we recognise and acknowledge our own shortcomings and pray for a way through our present wilderness. We might not have all the answers, but we do have our faith – not certainty – but faith which is a guiding light. Our faith is a safe place to question and to generate debate and possibly even more questions!

‘God with us’ in the turmoil of human life ; ‘God with us’ in the our questions and answers; ‘God with us’ in our belief and unbelief! This is the gift in which we hope and long for in the season of the colour purple – Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.


Christmas collections for the homeless 

Our Partnership Enabling Group has decided that, in line with last year, there will be no general collection of clothes, toiletries etc for Gatehouse and The Porch/Steppin’ Stone. Instead each of our partnership churches will decide how to support these charities. At its last meeting our PCC agreed we would encourage individual donations of money to each charity.  To do this please go to their respective websites – where there are details of JustGiving and GiftAid options – or contact by telephone:- The Gatehouse 01865 792999 (Mondays-Fridays 5-7pm, otherwise answerphone); The Porch/Steppin’ Stone 01865 251798.  In addition there will be collection plates in church for cash donations to these two charities on Sunday 5 and 12 December.

In addition, St Michael’s will be supporting the Living Room, which is an offshoot of the Oxford Winter Night Shelter (OWNS) in providing (new only, please) men’s underpants and socks; boxes will be put out in church for these practical donations during December. 

StM&AA’s has been running a deficit in recent months but we are pleased to report that we have stabilised the finances. However, with inflation increasing, our stewardship and giving will need to be re-evaluated. Please consider increasing your Standing Order or Direct Debit if, at all, possible. Notwithstanding this, there are other ways to give which do not cost anything!

St Michael & All Angels (StM&AA’s) is registered with a fundraising programme called “Give as you live” –

What is Give as you Live?

Give as you Live is an online fundraising platform allowing users to shop at over 5,500 stores and raise free funds for charity. The store pays Give as you Live a percentage of the total purchase price in commission and of this, 50% is passed on to charity.

How does Give as you Live make money?

In exchange for sending traffic to the store’s website to make purchases, the store pays Give as you Live a commission – this is commonly known as affiliate marketing. Give as you Live passes 50% on to charity and keep the other 50% to fund the running costs of the organisation.

Many of you are dedicated to shopping locally and supporting small businesses. But nevertheless you may occasionally have recourse to shopping online. By directing your purchases via the Give as you live website, you have the opportunity to raise funds for St Michael’s. 

  •     Train tickets – Chiltern Trains donates up to 1.75% of each transaction
  •     Airport parking
  •     M&S
  •     John Lewis
  •     Flight tickets
  •     Argos
  •     Online grocery shopping

Each transaction only generates a few pence, but at no cost to you. And if at St Michael’s we look after the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves.

Please do explore this scheme, and give it a go. You can install a reminder toolbar on your computer, so that if you are on the website of a company that is an affiliate of Give as you live you receive a prompt to use the scheme.

Learn more about God’s care for all people this Sunday at St Michael & All Angels, Summertown, 8am and 10am.

No matter where you are on the journey of faith, you are always welcome at St Michael & All Angels! See what’s going on by clicking here which will transport you to our website.

Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.