Meditation on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – Baptist News Global
I can almost smell the pungent thick smoke of diesel engines powering Russian tanks, personnel carriers and trucks carrying heavy artillery in two eastern provinces on the Ukraine-Russia border. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the two provinces “independent states” and said he was sending “peacekeeping” troops to protect ethnic Russians in the region.
It’s likely the halls of the White House, State Department and Pentagon will remain lit all night with a company of aides following the latest news and crafting President Biden’s response. The same goes for European and Russian leaders. Dawn is already breaking for many of them.
Ash Wednesday has come early for Roman Catholics in Ukraine. Most Orthodox communions do not observe Ash Wednesday. Their Lenten season begins this year with a “Pardon” vespers service on Sunday evening March 6, which is followed by a “Clean Monday”, whose liturgical functions are similar to Ash Wednesday.
The scriptural text for Clean Monday are the memorable lines of Isaiah 1, which begins with the denunciation of YAHWEH’s religious position. “I’ve had enough of burnt offerings…your incense is an abomination to me…I can’t stand your solemn assemblies…even though you say many prayers.”
Why? Because “your hands are full of blood”.
Those of vigorous godliness love verse 18 of this chapter: “Come, let us reason together, saith the Lord. Even though your sins are like scarlet, they will turn white like snow. Growing up, I never heard the previous lines: “Stop doing evil, learn to do good; ask for justice, save the oppressed, plead for the widow.
The prelude to God’s beautiful saving offer is ignored.
So, once again, the elaborate rituals ushering in Lent will be staged with bloody hands. The penitential promise will again be ignored. Sacred music will rival the strong recoil of guns. The bag and ashes will be replaced with bulletproof vests. Ukrainians and Russians will offer competing prayers for safety and victory. The gods of redemptive violence will receive all offerings.
Who indeed can save us from this body of death?
Ken Sehested is curator of Prayerandpolitiks.org, an online journal at the intersection of spiritual formation and prophetic action.
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