February 24 marked the beginning of another grim chapter in human history where the forces of empire, power, greed and evil struck. Despite the propaganda coming from the Kremlin, that sounds eerily reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s justifications for invading Poland in 1939, this is nothing more than a brutal grab for power and territory. The brutality is not only part of this invasion but is shown by the way thousands of peaceful protesters within Russia were rounded up by militarized police.
From this place in the midst of the crisis it is hard to see God’s hand at work. I think of the disciples who saw Jesus murdered by crucifixion and feeling certain that all was lost. Yet, it was not the cross or the brutal empire that had the last say. It is in the resurrection of Jesus that we see God in action on behalf of the Holy Son and us.
We must be patient and trust in the love of God. We must join with those who work for peace no matter who they are. This is not about taking sides in a battle that one might triumph over the other. This is about siding with peace. For it is in only in peace that we all triumph. It is in peace that God’s love triumphs. It is only through peace that the Kingdom of God will be manifest in the world.
Of course, peace is more than the absence of war and conflict. The peace of God is about justice for every single person on the planet. Justice is more than what happens in the courtroom. It is about safety, food, health, freedom of thought, freedom from fear, freedom of faith, care for the natural world, and so much more. That is the Peace of God that passes all understanding.
While Ukraine is top of our minds we should ont forget other areas around the globe where people suffer from armed conflicts including Congo, Ethiopia, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen to name a few. There are also areas where tensions remain high such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, the Korean Peninsula, Mexico, and Venezuela.
Therefore, I ask you to join with me in praying “A Prayer for Peace” from the Book of Common Prayer page 815.
“Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.”
I also offer the prayer from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, respectively.
“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 should 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 of 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.