At God’s Heart for those we condemn the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia and stand with the Ukrainian People in Prayer and Solidarity.

Rev. Jonathan Faulkner

Correction: I’ve been reliably informed that the Orthodox do not observe Ash Wednesday and that lent began yesterday for them. I apologize for the oversight. The sentiments expressed below do still apply to our Roman Catholic, Anglican and High Church Protestant brothers and sisters fleeing the country.

Before you read this piece please do something for me, stop reading, find a quiet place to pray this Ash Wednesday and say a prayer for the Ukraine. Or pray the prayer included at the end of this piece.

On the liturgical colander today is Ash Wednesday, on this day pastors and priests will look into the eyes of their parishioners and remind them that they will die. As a physical reminder ashes will be placed on the foreheads of those to whom they speak. As we enter lent, a season of repentance and remembrance, we are reminded that we are but mortal beings who were created in the image of an immortal, eternal God. We will be reminded of the sin and brokenness of our very existence.

For our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, this reminder has been ever before them this last week. Kyiv is one of the most important historical places for the Eastern Orthodox Church and today, those who are left in the city will be receiving ashes on their foreheads after walking through the ashes that line their streets. Many more will worship in a foreign cathedral and all will grieve for loved ones lost and a nation broken by war. One Ash Wednesday they will be reminded of their mortality by an enemy that claims to come in the name of the God they worship. Lord have mercy.

I do not have much else to say today, this conflict weighs heavy on my heart. This Sunday I preached, standing in front of an Icon called: “The Lady of Kyiv.” Reminding us that we, as Anglicans, share a connection with our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters in Kyiv and the entire Ukraine. The city we minister in is home to 40,000 Slavic residents from Russia and Ukraine making it a likely landing spot for many of the 500,000 refugees who have left their homeland.

Even as we wish one another a “bright lent” let us pray.

Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, you are no stranger to the pain of this world as you came down in the person of Jesus Christ as lived in it and witnessed it firsthand. Today our hearts are heavy as we think of our brothers and sisters, your servants, in Ukraine. Those who are under threat of death and fear for loved ones left behind. We pray you would bring them comfort but Lord, also bring peace, bring peace to the people of Ukraine, may they be able to return home soon, by your grace, shield them and protect them. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.