Ukraine: Lutheran bishops from Ukraine and Russia join prayer for peace
God is “with the victims of this war. He is with the suffering people. He is there in the hell of war.”
(LWI) – Two bishops from Lutheran churches in Ukraine and Russia joined an ecumenical prayer for peace in Berlin Cathedral, Germany on 18 March.
Dietrich Brauer, Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, said that this “Lent season has brought us a whole new, terrifying, bitter trial. We are shocked by the experience of what it means to stand powerless and helpless before evil. On 24 February, we awoke to a new reality full of darkness and fear.”
He had strong words to describe the ongoing war: “We see war, tears, and death. Crying children, fleeing people, destroyed houses and corpses lying around. It is a power that we alone can hardly resist, leaving us speechless. But we are not alone. We have each other. We can pray together, ask for peace, name things as they are, bear witness to the truth and open the eyes of others.”
Bishop Pavlo Shvarts of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ukraine said God was present and with those who suffer: “We have the God who is neither distant nor indifferent. He is there. He is with the victims of this war. He is with the suffering people. He is there in the hell of war. He weeps with them. He walks with them through the valley of death.”
Bishop Shvarts added “Christ is here on the cross in our midst to assure and reassure us that death does not have the last word. That fear does not mute us forever. He promises us life that triumphs over all powers of evil. He leads us to the fresh waters of deliverance and his peace.”
Shvarts’s office is in Kharkiv, a city in eastern Ukraine whose population suffers from massive bombardment by Russian troops. He thanked all those working to end this war, supporting the people of Ukraine now and welcoming them with open arms. “We are called to a just peace - where the victims are heard, and the perpetrators named. Only in this way can there be true reconciliation. We place our hope in God and ask Him to let us be peacemakers and eventually reconcile. We pray that we can be Christians not only with words but also with deeds.”
“The prayer for a just peace in one church, with the participation of bishops from Lutheran churches in Russia and Ukraine, is a powerful and courageous testimony. It is much needed in this difficult time when innocent people are being killed, and several million must flee their homes in search of a safe place to live,” said Rev. Dr Ireneusz Lukas, LWF Regional Secretary for Europe.
By LWF/A. Weyermüller
Video: The prayer for peace for Ukraine in the Berlin Cathedral
LWF's is coordinating a response through its member churches in Ukraine and the neighboring countries to ensure support to Ukrainian refugees as well as their safe and dignified arrival. The work is supported by LWF's funding partners, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.