February 24, 2022
Dear colleagues and friends,
The news reports emanating from Ukraine bring directly into our homes and hearts the terrifying reality of war. With it come emotions that including anger, fear, and helplessness. We feel these both for ourselves and for all those more immediately in harm’s way.
It seems unimaginable that, as an advanced civilization, we are unable to find ways to move toward peaceable resolutions that, in the words of our baptismal covenant, “respect the dignity of every human being” and protect the vulnerable and undefended. It is hard to accept that destruction and death constitute an acceptable way to find stability and security.
We may be thousands of miles from where the missiles are launched and the bombs land, but we are all complicit. In continually succumbing to a we/they construct in addressing our local, national, and global differences, we are inevitably led to polarization and destructive results. I offer this not in judgment, but in confession. It remains our common human condition.
As disciples of the one who said, “Peace I give to you, my own peace I leave with you,” we turn to him now for guidance and help. We hold before him our human brokenness that keeps leading us into dehumanizing behavior, and we offer our broken selves back to the God who has given us this life to share. Our prayer for the victims of this attack on Ukraine and our prayer for those who have initiated it must be accompanied by our prayer for ourselves, that we will give ourselves to peace. Such willing self-sacrifice is at the heart of all intercession. Indeed, God can do anything, but always demands our participation.
The answers Jesus gives to our prayers at this moment will doubtless cost us. They will require us to pick up the peace he has given us, his own peace, and make the same sacrifice of ourselves that he made for us. They will require us to hear what God needs of us to incarnate the peace of Christ in our own lives and be willing to pay the price.
Let us, therefore, pray for peace; for the safety and comfort of all victims in this time of fear and devastation; for those in leadership and those carrying out their orders; and for ourselves, that we will give all that we are to the peaceful resolution of all conflict:
Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquillity your dominion may increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 258)
Know that you are in my prayers,
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio