Soon it will be Easter in Ukraine. It’s hard to think much beyond “How can that happen this year?” The country lies in ruins, made desolate by the warring mind of a desperate Russian dictator. Death is strewn across the landscape, in ways that perhaps stagger Ukrainians’ comprehension. “Resurrection’s victory” squeezes into a smaller mindset, perhaps even too small for imagination or hope. Reality evades words, even those that are holy. Survival is not assured.
The traditional messages of Easter may be crushed or pulverized into seemingly meaningless ideals.
During these weeks of bombardment and siege by the armies of Russia, the work of Ukrainian pastors, army chaplains and religious leaders has continued. Not just the normal tasks of comforting and accompanying people. In some cases, these faith leaders may have also taken up the vocation of citizen-soldiers. Realizing that cruelty and evil have come upon them, these faithful servants of Christ have steeled themselves to tasks that they may have never imagined.
And yet…. (In God’s time and God’s way, there is always “and yet!”)
There may be only a few Easter observances in Ukrainian Christianity this year. Because every life is now precious beyond description, what these fellow believers will celebrate is life itself. In small ways beyond our knowing, God’s people in Ukraine will find small joys, small hopes, small victories. With almost every vestige of normal life destroyed, these citizens of God’s kingdom will begin rebuilding their churches, villages and nation.
God’s work in Ukraine will continue, made real by how each of us—who share our faith and our humanity with Ukrainians—steps into caring and helping tasks that bring life. Into roles that offer restoration—“resurrection” by another name—for Orthodox, Catholic and Reformed Christians who will observe Easter this year in Ukraine.
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