Prayer for the People of Ukraine and Peace in Europe
Our faith teaches us that we must stand with the vulnerable and the oppressed. And at the same time, our faith teaches us that we are meant to be followers of the prince of peace, of the one who taught us that violence is always a compromise with evil. It is hard for us to reconcile those two teachings today, when innocent people are dying at the hands of a military onslaught. Our prayers feel insufficient to defend those cowering in fear and exposed to bullets and bombs.
But we know that the place where war lives is in the human heart. As the prophet Jeremiah teaches us, the heart is devious above all else; and it is in the devices and desires of hearts resisting God’s call to live in love that the first seeds of war take root. We often begin our prayers with the words “Almighty God.” But the deeper truth of our Christian faith is that we believe humanity has been redeemed, and the world forever changed, by an all-vulnerable God—a god whose love is finally victorious through the vulnerability of a naked man nailed to a cross. It is from that seeming defeat that the victory over death and sin is won forever—even the sin that lies at the heart of war.
We pray for the innocent citizens of Ukraine under attack in their own sovereign country. We pray for refugees including women and children displaced by this atrocious act of hostility. We pray for leadership as it seeks to address this war. We thank God for neighboring countries that have opened their borders to assist in this humanitarian crisis. May the Lord change the heart and intention of the leader of Russia, and may a new spirit of love and transformation prevail – “nothing is impossible with God”!
And so as we begin our season of Lent, we are called to give up our easy complacency about the durability of peace. We are called to consider again the reminders in our midst of war’s relentless cost to human life and God’s hope. And we are called to pray, and speak, and to labor for the truth that Christ has called us to transform this broken world through the hard work of love.
God of timelessness,
From chaos and disorder
you brought forth the beauty of creation;
From the chaos of war and violence
Bring forth the beauty of peace.
God of compassion
You saw the humanity of the outcast and the stranger;
Help us to see the evils of our hatreds and suspicions
and to turn them into the embrace of your Beloved Community.
God of peace, Through your love on the cross
You overcame the power of violence and death;
Turn us away from the love of power
That we may transform a warring world through the power of your love.