With the outbreak of this desperate war in Ukraine we are all left with few words. On Day One of the invasion Abbie Jessop from our core team took to her violin to express herself; as we listened nothing more needed to be said.
So, what can I say now? Mostly that we are all humbled, beyond words, by the courage of the Ukrainian people. Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, is a leader who has shamed and inspired us all. He is prepared to lay down his life for truth, justice and a love for his country. We are all witnesses to the global response to this calibre of leadership. It isn’t common.
Jesus said ‘greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends‘ John 15:13
As human beings we search after love. At the moment we can’t take our eyes off our TV screens, tablets or mobile phones, one reason I believe, is because we see this greater love epitomised in the Ukrainian people. We applaud the bravery of incredible, yet ordinary, men and women. One also remembers the women with the children. As a mother and grandmother I realise that my understanding of the extent of parental love began when I was 15 years old. My mother had a German friend who visited our home for the first time. We had an immediate rapport, and, she shared with me how as a Mother she offered herself rather than her child be violated. I instinctively knew that this sacrifice affected every second of the rest of her life. I hesitate to write these words for our website, but then, when else should I, Europe is in the grip of a lust for power and domination.
Perhaps greater love is fed by greater surrender. The surrender of preferring the other (ref: Romans 12:10). For years I have sought to live by this value, and, so often failed. But the peoples of Ukraine and neighbouring countries as they mobilise unconditional hospitality, give me hope that I should keep trying. I wonder if ‘trying’ is not the word to use, but rather a phrase that is deeper and more profound - letting go. We read in the book of Galatians chapter five verse twenty five ‘The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives’. This is a watershed moment for the West when we take a long, hard look at ourselves, both corporately and individually, and declare that we need to give up selfish and destructive control and remember God. We may not be a person of faith, yet, I believe there is universal agreement that we aspire for the fruit of the Spirit in our lives - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (ref: Galatians 5: 22-23a). Let us encourage one another all the more, for this is the fruit that lasts.
At a recent gathering the speaker spoke so clearly of the challenge of weighing the following scriptures against the devastation in the Ukraine.
‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;’
1 Thessalonians 5:16 to 18a
It might be an anathema to many of us to make such a suggestion.
Shortly afterwards I met an individual I had not seen since 2019. He had suffered severe physical loss as a result of the medical crisis during the pandemic. This person could not get to a Doctor when ill, was later misdiagnosed, and, as a result, life was forever changed. But then I looked at his face, which shone with the fruit of the Spirit. I listened to his words which centred on thankfulness, and, perceived his gracious attitude of surrender to all that had happened. I recalled the speaker’s words, and, I felt he brought the reality of war in our midst. And, most importantly, he carried the truths of greater love and surrendering control, that may change the world, the antidote to war.