From The Rector…
War is a terrible thing. The act of war in and of itself is horrible in its aggression and violence toward other human beings, civilization, animals, plants, creation itself. We glorify it in some ways—but we also understand its sinful and broken nature. The war in Ukraine is no different from any other war we have seen, experienced, or studied. It is driven by a desire to possess—even if it must be by violent means—and it is indiscriminate in its destruction.
War is distressing. It does not simply affect those involved in it but all of us. Our common humanity draws us to those who suffer. Our empathy and compassion are stirred in such a way that we want to respond—we want to do something. We feel helpless because we are so far away and what could we do anyway? That sense of helplessness leads to a hopelessness—not just in how we think about the current conflict in Ukraine, but in our hopes and dreams for all of humanity and our desire for a peace that does not seem possible to achieve.
In these last two years of Covid, we had discovered a world that on the surface was navigating rough seas and yet was also deeply aware of the current of connection that runs through all of us. In those depths we cheered one another on. We watched how people navigated the pandemic and we rooted for one another. We remembered the value of life and we did what we had to do to stop the spread. It is disheartening that as we emerge from that time, we face a new set of trials and tribulations.
The war in Ukraine is far from us. We may be feeling its effects at the gas pump, but we are not rocketed with rounds of mortar shells or flooded with refugees. The trials and tribulations that we are faced with resemble more a collective holding of our breath to see what happens next—a dis-ease that is unsettling and incomprehensible.
We watch and we pray. If that sounds a little like scripture, it is. Jesus asked his disciples to watch and pray with him in the garden of Gethsemane. It was the most unsettling night of his life. His thoughts and prayers did not resemble a God who could not suffer, but a man who prayed to be free from suffering with all that he had, “Father take this cup from me.” Maybe it is the divine part of him that responds or maybe the rational side, but in his heart of hearts he knows, “not my will but thy will be done.” That is a tough prayer, because it means that in the end, we accept that we have no control over the world or even, at times, what might happen to us.
War in the Ukraine, a cancer diagnosis, an unexpected death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a betrayal—we don’t get to direct the world the way we want. We do get to sit with the suffering of others and embrace them, pray for them, be with them, give them honor and dignity when all others have taken it away.
Pray for the Ukraine. Pray for peace in our world. Pray that wars will cease, and suffering will end, and we will treat one another with kindness and compassion. And, if in the midst of those prayers, you find your heart drawn to do more, give to Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). It is The Episcopal Church’s way of assisting the world when disaster strikes. This Sunday we will collect a special offering for ERD that will help provide cash, blankets, and other needed assistance to families from Ukraine. Or, you can click HERE to donate now directly to ERD.
Watch and pray, and maybe even give. Let your compassion be stirred and your heart beat for peace—even and especially if it is that peace which passes all understanding.
Light and Life,