Ukraine - Monday Musing, February 28, 2022
Ukraine. The independent country of Ukraine – an ally of the United States – has been invaded by Russia, shocking the conscience of the world. The current conflict has severely strained US-Russian relations and increased the risk of a wider European conflict. Tensions are likely to increase between Russia and neighboring NATO member countries that will likely involve the US as a result of our security alliance commitments.
Why does this matter? I know there are those who feel that raising such issues is placing a political toe in an area for others to pontificate on, and that my time should focus on spiritual issues. To which I reply – this is a spiritual matter. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, for example, Jesus tells a lawyer that the key to eternal life is obedience to God’s law, which requires both love of God and love of neighbor. “Do this,” Jesus says, “and you will live.” The lawyer in the story wants more facts, wanting Jesus to further define who is his neighbor.
Jesus’ response depicts the Samaritan as a model neighbor for a purpose, which should not be lost on us. In Christ’s time, Samaritans were branded as religious renegades. The enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans was ancient, entrenched, and bitter. What Jesus is really saying is that the Samaritan, the man whom the Jewish lawyer despises so much, IS his neighbor. Yes, his enemy is also his neighbor. If we want eternal life, Jesus is saying, love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, which includes our enemies – whoever we consider the Samaritan to be in our world today.
We live in a globalized world where events that occur in the moment are captured on cell phones and broadcast for all to see. While the US cannot be the world police, we cannot turn a blind eye to injustice that goes against our values – and our faith for us Christians. In 1963, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
People of faith should care about world events because millions of people created in God’s image live in Ukraine, and this independent country is being invaded by an enemy. In the midst of this darkness, we join prayers with people across the globe pleading for peace. Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell write this:
A Prayer for Ukraine
God of peace and justice,
we pray for the people of Ukraine today.
We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons.
We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow,
that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them.
We pray for those with power over war or peace,
for wisdom, discernment and compassion
to guide their decisions.
Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear,
that you would hold and protect them.
We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
See you in church.