Stand with Ukraine in prayer and action
Andrew Frere-Smith reflects on how we can respond to the events in Eastern Europe at the moment.
My father saw action in World War Two as an 18-year-old tank driver. He very rarely spoke about his experiences, but I know they scarred him deeply. He suffered with poor mental health for the rest of his life, living to the grand age of 94. As a parent, I have hoped my children would never hear the words ‘World War Three’. It frightens me just to write them down. Yet here we are in 2022, reading those words in the media and witnessing a dreadful war in Europe, just a short flight away.
I am still trying to comprehend the horror of what is taking place in Ukraine and what my response should be. I know I should pray, but how? I know I should resist evil and love my enemies, but how? Should I protest? Should I drive to Poland with a van full of supplies? Is it better to stay home and send money? Should I offer a room in my house?
In trying to manage my thoughts, I found the following reflection from Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop in Residence for the Church Urban Fund, helpful.
As followers of Christ we have a vision for a new kind of society, where peace and justice prevail. Jesus called it the Kingdom of God, and contrary to all appearances he said you could reach out and almost touch it. We have a word to describe what happens when you try to do this - it’s called prayer.
Prayer is a legitimate Christian response to the war in Ukraine. So is action: we are being called to humanitarian support, an openness to refugees, a willingness to endure the economic cost of sanctions, public demonstration, and private witness.
This is also a moment for personal honesty. We must attend to all those little wars which make up the fabric of our everyday lives, those micro aggressions where we choose to put our own desires before the needs of others. It is the accumulation of those little wars that creates the big war. All of us bear some responsibility.
After 9/11, the argument raged about how we could defeat terror, and a simple Christian, listening to the litany of military experts talking about bombing this and destroying that and hitting at the heart of the other, said: the only way to defeat terror is to out-imagine it.
That is our task in prayer, word and action, because ultimately war is a failure of imagination and the primacy of love.
This article first appeared in the Imagine Norfolk Together newsletter for Kings Lynn.
Andrew Frere-Smith is Development Worker for Imagine Norfolk Together, based in Kings Lynn.
The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate constructive and good-natured debate between website users.
We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted below, upon the ideas expressed here.
Click here to read our forum and comment posting guidelines