Watch above: On Ash Wednesday 2022, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York offers guidance for a Christian response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The brokenness of humanity will never outlast the goodness of God’s grace within humanity… When we pray we look full into the face of broken humanity and say, we will not be defined by you, we will not live in fear of you, because we believe in a God whose grace is bigger than your brokenness.”
Greetings dear friends. Like you my heart has been heavy this past week as I’ve watched news out of Ukraine. And I’ve thought several times, this is not new: vainglory; humans oppressing others; this battle for power in the most dehumanizing and degrading of ways. These are humanity’s issues that have long been our struggle.
And in this time we again have the opportunity to see that the brokenness of humanity will never outlast the goodness of God’s grace within humanity. To see people supporting Ukraine. To see people in Russia supporting the people of Ukraine. Crying out, these are our neighbors. We want them treated with respect. To see people all across the global community uniting to say, this is not how we want our world to be. The world is too small for such broken, selfish ambition.
All of us together have a part to play in our world becoming what we most hope it will be: a place of safety, a place of support and encouragement, a place of individual abilities to succeed and to go forward and a place where these harms and these degradations of humanity can no longer happen.
And so we need to take the first step on that journey. And we ask ourselves, what can we possibly do about Ukraine?
As people of faith, we have a place to begin. We go back to the source of all life and we kneel before God, and we say, Lord, in you is our help. Come, bring resurrection, bring healing, bring grace.
And yes, perhaps we do the most radical thing of all: we pray. Prayer is an action. It’s an action of defiance, as has been said so many times. For when we pray we look full into the face of broken humanity and say, we will not be defined by you, we will not live in fear of you, because we believe in a God whose grace is bigger than your brokenness.
So when we as people of faith pray, we’re bringing God into a situation of sorrow and suffering and reminding ourselves, even, that it’s at the point of the death, at the point of the greatest sorrow, that resurrection begins.
We are people of resurrection, and alleluia is our song. It is still Ash Wednesday, but even in Lent, alleluia is our song, because we are resurrection people, and we believe that the difficulties and the challenges and the sorrows of this present moment will be outdone by God’s love in us.
So let us return to God with prayer, and pray for Ukraine. Let us use our resources, our time, talent, and treasure, to support others. And let us use our words of compassion, of mercy, of support for people in our own contexts who are being harmed by other people, people in our own hamlets and cities and villages who need support and encouragement. Let’s do this for Ukraine, for all of humanity, but ultimately, let’s live for Jesus, as our Baptismal Covenant says, “to seek and serve Christ in all persons.”
Dear friends, may you be blessed and may you be a blessing to this hurting world.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York