The bombardment and invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, accompanied by chilling threats from Vladimir Putin that any nations who might interfere would "face consequences greater than any you have faced in history," give cause for fear and alarm.
The results of this aggression will be dreadful: an estimated 5 million refugees, a humanitarian crisis with 50,000 to 100,000 civilian casualties, and a severe threat to European and global democracy.
We do not need to let our understandable fear and worry drive our response to this distressing news, because we trust in the Prince of Peace, who is also the creative Word who endowed the world with a primordial goodness that no human sin or violence can erase.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “At no time has the world been without war. Not in seven or ten or twenty thousand years.” But this reality does not justify a new war. Nor does it leave us with no choice but resigned acceptance of a chaos that threatens the integrity of human life. What can—what must—we do?
Despite the significant place it played in US politics several years ago, most of us still know very little about Ukraine and even less about the history of Ukraine’s relations with Russia. Faced with a frightful situation, it will be tempting for each of us to draw this unjust invasion into our existing frames of reference. We will be inclined to see in it lessons that confirm our views of politics and the world or to jump at the opportunity to score points against domestic political rivals. Perhaps we will feel the urge to treat Russians or people of Russian background as proxies for Russia’s leaders. We must resist these temptations and focus our prayers and our concern on the people of Ukraine.
We do not need to let our understandable fear and worry drive our response to this distressing news, because we trust in the Prince of Peace, who is also the creative Word who endowed the world with a primordial goodness that no human sin or violence can erase. The way is open for us to respond in faith and in faithfulness to the peacemaking work of Christ.
As we all discern how to respond faithfully, we humbly offer a few guiding principles:
- We ought to prioritize care for those whose lives have been cruelly upended by unconscionable aggression.
- We ought to be ready to welcome and support those who flee the consequences of war.
- We ought to express to our representatives and to each other our denunciation of the violent aggression ordered by Russia’s leader and perpetrated by its military.
- We ought to guard our hearts against the growth of hatred, even in the midst of justified anger.
Above all, let us pray for peace.