Dear Beloved Community,
You are likely now aware that in the early hours of Thursday morning, Vladimir Putin addressed the citizens of Russia announcing a “special military operation” and “full-scale invasion” of neighboring Ukraine. With Mr. Putin’s announcement and subsequent ground reports of airstrikes, explosions and gunfire resounding across Ukraine, the worst case scenario of war has now been realized. This despite days of diplomatic efforts by The United Nations Security Council and NATO and special pleading from the World Council of Churches.
As Russian tanks and troops roll across the border in a full-scale war, it may seem that from Iowa there is not much we can do. We must pray. We pray for the Ukrainian citizens who are hunkering down to weather the siege or who are attempting to flee by train, by car, and even by foot as they seek refuge in nearby nations. We pray for an intercession of peace, protection, and diplomacy. Additionally, we pray for Bishop Eduard Khegay who serves the Eurasia Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church which includes both Russia and Ukraine: may God grant him what he needs to lead the pastors, leaders and congregations of these nations in this challenging and heartbreaking time.
In a February 22 post on Facebook, Bishop Khegay wrote: (translated from Russian to English)
"WAR AND PEACE. Methodist communities in many countries of the world pray for peace in Ukraine. Our community in Lugansk needs prayer support. Residents of this city hear the sounds of guns, mass mobilization of men under 55 is going on. The situation is complicated and disturbing.
As Christian Methodists, 'we believe that war is incompatible with the teaching and life of Christ. Therefore, we reject war as a tool for national foreign policy and insist that the main moral duty of all nations is to resolve by peaceful means every division that arises between them or within them' (Book Discipline OMC, ¶165B).
I still want to remind you of a few quotes from great authors. 'War is not courtesy, but the most nastiest thing in life, and you must understand it and not play war' (L. N. Tolstoy, War and Peace).
'Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and they will open to you' (Matthew 7:7)
Ask for peace for Ukraine."
A prayer for Ukraine by Iowa City native, Rev. Maren Tirabassi
Prayer for Ukraine under invasion
God of plowshares, pruning hooks,
translate such old archaic words
into hope today in Ukraine
that your promise to shatter
bows and swords, spears and shields,
may mean now
an end of missile strikes
and long-range artillery,
the silencing of Kyiv’s air-raid sirens.
We pray for those who flee the capital
and those who shelter in place
and in fear in Kharkiv to the east.
We pray for troops already exhausted
from their long watching.
We pray for NATO land and air forces,
knowing that means people,
and we pray for Germany and Poland
as they open borders to fleeing refugees.
God, we have studied war for so long,
let it be no more, no more.
Teach us a new peacemaking,
guiding the leaders of nations,
and holding gently in your heart
the many who live and die
because of their decisions,
for we pray in the name of Jesus
who wept for our great needing
of the things that make for peace.
Prayers for Peace,
Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Assistant to the Bishop, for Bishop Laurie Haller and the Iowa Conference Cabinet