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Call to Prayer and Action for Ukraine

In The Big Picture 02 Craig Bartholomew wrote about Jesus’ call to his followers to be salt and light. Now is a time for salt – to restrain the evil – and light – to flood the situation with light and truth. As has been said, for evil to triumph all that is required is for good people to remain silent. Let us not be such people. Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Clearly what is going on in Ukraine matters. This page contains some resources to keep us informed about Ukraine, to help us understand such conflict, a prayer for Ukraine, our recent liturgy at our call to prayer event, and other useful materials. You are welcome to submit short pieces, prayers and links, but do be aware that we will only post what is in final form and what we assess to be useful for this page.

Helpful Links

  • Liturgy: Recently we hosted a call to prayer and action event. You can find our liturgy here. 
  • Poisonings: You can read here an extract from our March 2018 edition of Sibylline Leaves, which Craig wrote in response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the former Russian double agent, and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury, UK. This poisoning by Russia marked the first use of a nerve agent on European soil since World War II. 
  • The Russian Orthodox Church and the conflict: You will find here an insightful reflection from the Christian political theorist David Koyzis: http://byzantinecalvinist.blogspot.com/2022/03/the-tepid-witness-of-insular-prelate.html
  • Here is a critical reflection from Orthodox Christians: https://publicorthodoxy.org/2022/03/13/a-declaration-on-the-russian-world-russkii-mir-teaching/
  • Understanding the violence: What is it that leads to the terrible and unnecessary violence we are witnessing daily? We need to wake up and become informed about such issues, using all the resources we possess to understand such evil so that we can prevent it. See Goudzwaard and Bartholomew, Beyond the Modern Age, chapter 7 “Becoming Human: Desire, Violence, and René Girard,” for an explanation of the profound ways in which the ten commandments help us to understand the resort to violence and the important work of Girard in this regard. Patrick Miller exquisitely describes the ten commandments as the ethos of the good neighbourhood. They also enable us to understand how a good neighbourhood like Ukraine becomes the site of terrible violence and destruction.  What is the use of such profound biblical insight if we fail to leverage it for the destruction of Ukraine, while priding ourselves on being biblical Christians? 
  • Brett Bradshaw wrote an exquisite and searing piece about Terrence Malick’s film A Hidden Light and the situation in Ukraine. You can read it here

A Prayer for Ukraine

Lord, 

You promise us a future 

          in which the weapons of war 

                    will be transformed into instruments of peace. 

Today is not such a day,

          as missiles rain down on Ukraine

                    and tanks rush down their streets.

You taught us to pray

          Your kingdom come on earth

          as it is in heaven,

And so we pray that you will

          restrain the evil of this invasion,

          grant courage and wisdom to the resistance,

          and bring peace and justice to this

                    beautiful part of your world. 

Look with mercy on the peoples of Ukraine and Russia,

          and grant our leaders wisdom and courage

          to withstand this evil. 

Grant Lord,

          that through this conflict,

          we may recognize anew our need for you,

          and live to thank you 

          for answering our prayers. 

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

Amen. 

Ernst Barlach, Dona Nobis Pacem
Edward Okuń, In Smoke of Fire
Fedir Krychevsky, Family Life Tryptich (detail)
Ernst Barlach, Christ in Gethsemane

For Action

As the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine continues with demonstrable war crimes what should we do?

  1. Pray without ceasing. We have access to our God, and we need to continually hold the situation before God. 
  2. We need to become as informed as we can about the situation without succumbing to living in social media constantly, a destabilising recipe. At present Craig is reading Andrew Wilson, Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation, and Serhy Yekelchyk, The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know. From the Sibylline Leaves above you will see that Craig strongly recommends that everyone reads Bill Browder’s Red Notice. You can also listen to multiple interviews and talks by Browder on YouTube. Understanding what leads to such violence (see above) is vital to preventing it in the first place, and constraining it now.  
  3. Respond with appropriate outrage and legitimate anger – an unjustified invasion of a sovereign country is simply wrong.
  4. By developing a small group in your church that does the hard work and thinking on such issues and keeps the community informed. When Hitler rose to power in Germany, many Dutch churches studied Mein Kampf and thus were informed and prepared to oppose the evil seeping across Europe. We need to become well informed about Putin and his colleagues. We need to learn all we can about Russia and how it has become the police state that it now is. This includes listening carefully to reliable Russian voices which can help us gain a critical perspective on Western actions and how we may have contributed to the current situation. 
  5. By reading at least one book on this pattern of abhorrent behaviour by the Russian State. There are many good books out there. I particularly recommend Browder’s Red Notice and Harding’s A Very Expensive Poison.  
  6. By encouraging and keeping the pressure on our governments through writing to the relevant UK, European and American, etc., government officials, praising them for their united action where appropriate and pressing them to remain resolute in their opposition to the invasion. Pressure needs to be put on the countries that abstained from the recent vote in the UN condemning the invasion. I think here, for example, of my beloved South Africa. We may wonder if sanctions have any effect. They do. Through Browder’s work and against far too many odds, in December 2012, the United States passed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which imposes visa sanctions and asset freezes on those involved in Sergei’s arrest, torture and death, as well as on other gross human rights abusers. In March 2012 a motion was unanimously passed in the House of Commons in the UK, calling on the government to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian officials who falsely arrested, tortured and killed Sergei Magnitsky and then covered up the crime. For all of this and more see Browder’s website www.billbrowder.com When Trump became president, the first thing Putin did was to send a representative to his team to request that they get rid of the Magnitsky Act. Sanctions matter to Putin! We need to make sure the Magnitsky Act, and other such legislation, is significantly enhanced. 
  7. As the war drags on, we need to remain engaged. It will end! and then we need to make sure sanctions are not lifted too quickly and that the war crimes are properly investigated and the guilty held accountable.
  8. By doing all we can to support the refugees flooding into Poland and Europe. 
  9. By refusing to forget – let 24 February 2022 be engraved in our memories – and by honoring the memory of those who have been slain. KLC commits to remembering this date each year. Work with us in this respect. 
  10. By doing all we can to support honest, rigorous, investigative journalism. Truth matters! Such journalists – to put it mildly – have not fared well in Russia. Courtesy of modern media we witness daily the remarkable courage of journalists in Ukraine. 
Käthe Kollwitz, Desolation and Despair
Aristarkh Lentulov, The Crucifixion