Each day seems to move the world closer to armed conflict in Ukraine. That’s sad beyond belief.
I have a friend from Ukraine that I met while I was studying in Finland several years ago. I asked my friend how they were doing, what they were feeling in this moment. My friend told me that people there are nervous, but not panicked. They are preparing for invasion and know the realities that they face. But they will resist should they be occupied. My friend also said that the support of the international community is so very important and it means a lot to the people of Ukraine.
My friend also sent me a link to a post with pictures that are very sobering – https://www.facebook.com/gintov/posts/10158317610196784.
It’s a picture of a 79 year old woman learning to use an AK-47. She’s being trained by the Ukrainian National Guard to defend her homeland. Let that sink in for a moment.
This coming Sunday the lectionary gives us a portion of Luke 6 where Jesus talks about loving one’s enemies. Loving our enemies is not easy in practice, although the concept itself is.
I’m not sure how a nation threatening to invade another nation is loving one’s enemies. I’m not sure how picking up a weapon is either. That’s not to create an equivalence though. A nation is not the same thing as a 79 year old woman. One threatens violence in order to take, another prepares to use violence to defend, most likely giving up her life in the process.
The US is pulling civilian personnel from the eastern portions of Ukraine in what sounds like an assumption that an attack is coming. Will the Russians wait until the Olympics are done? Is all of this just some kind of ploy? Is it about feeding a dictator’s ego? At what cost?
And what will our response be? We are saying that our response will be “swift and decisive,” whatever that means. Are we willing to go to war? A ground war? An embargo? Economic sanctions?
It feels like a big game of chicken. And in the mean time real, actual lives are held in the balance.
What is happening is not the way of peace, that I know. It’s not the way of Jesus. It’s the way of nations. It’s the way of people with egos. It’s the way of power. It’s the way of might. It’s the way of violence. It’s the way of empire.
The only person who knows what Russia will do is Putin. Will the troops that fall under his command follow orders should a command for invasion be given? Or will they defy those orders in the name of peace – many of those troops are Russian Orthodox in faith practice. Is their faith more important than their nation’s ambitions? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions.
I just know that the only thing I have is a prayer. While the world may be expecting an invasion, that expectation is too much of a burden to bear. I expect God to do something. I don’t even know what that should be. But I expect God to be present and to act. That is my prayer.