A Time of Sadness and A Time for Action
[Thank you Peter Robinson for this article]
[Presently, Songulashvili is the diocesan Bishop of Tbilisi and head of Peace Cathedral in Tbilisi. Formerly he also served the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia as its leading Archbishop for 19 years.]
Many of us did not believe that Putin’s Russia would attack the coreligionist country of Ukraine. Now worst fears of brutalities and atrocities are coming true. The war as an organized mechanism of murder has been brought to motion. For me as a Georgian this war reopens some wounds of unhealed memories of Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008: deep feeling of helplessness, humiliation and disapointment in humanity. The same scenario, same tyrant, same lies, same venomous rhetoric. 25th of February is also the day when Georgia mourns its falling at another invasion of the country by the Russian troops in 1921.
Ukraine has been dragged into in the fratricidal war. The future of our civilization in Europe and beyond now depends on the courage, bravery and strength of the Ukrainian people. It is our duty as people of all faiths or none to support them.
Our support will require clarity, sacrifice, resiliency and intentionality. Clarity in our words to speak out against the injustices of war and the lies of leaders who care only for power. Sacrifice of our need to protect only ourselves. Resiliency to not give in when the days grow long and our souls become weary. Intentionality to pray continually for peace and to put our prayers into action.
We are calling our fellow Ukrainians, Russians, Europeans, Americans and others to pray for peace. We suggest that every day at 7 am and 7 pm we meet in our churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and offer our prayers for peace. If we cannot meet in the houses of worship we should meet in our homes for prayer. If we are not allowed to pray openly for peace let us pray in the sanctuary of our heart. It is essential that we do not succumb to the fear of the murderous forces. The inadequate ambition of one single person inflicts suffering on tens of millions of people, animals, birds, and of course the mother earth. This is a suicidal attempt to push the whole of creation towards unprecedented disaster.
Praying is essential but this is not nearly enough; the prayer should be accompanied by action,n and this action will become a prayer itself. “I felt my legs were praying,” wrote Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heshel after the protest walk to Selma. Similarly we need to be engulfed into prayerful action:
If we can use our hands to stop the war, we should use our hands,
If we can use our brains to stop the war, we should use our brains,
If we can use voice to stop the war, we should use our voice,
If we can use our resources to stop the war, we should use our resources,
If we can use our time and energy to stop the war, we should use our time and energy.
While striving to stop the war we should also need to commit ourselves to show compassion to the innocent people who have already been afflicted by the war: children, elderly, refugees from either side of cruel divide. There is no mother, no parent wishing to see their children brought in bags from the battlefields; there are no children wishing to see their parents dead. It is in such a time when our true identity is tested: who are we, what are the values we affirm, does justice and fairness mean anything to us. We need to be compassionate towards the suffering of the creation and all its members if want to maintain human dignity.
It is indeed the time of Sadness, frustration and anguish. But these circumstances should never blind our perspective that in the end justice will prevail, hatred and lie will be debited, love and compassion will definitely win. It is essential to believe that forces of darkness and stupidity will fail. It has always been the case; it shall always be the case. Therefore, let us heed the words of the prophet Amos: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Peace Cathedral, Tbilisi, February 25th, 2022
Thank you, Peter. As with so many people, the war in Ukraine weighs heavily on my mind day and night. The helplessness we feel, with the threat of nuclear war, hangs over our heads.
Thanks Paul, I have sent it to our Discussion Group . Elizabeth Burns
I particularly resonated with the expressed sentiment that prayer is not enough – and that action is also needed to assist those injured and displaced by this dreadful war. The best thing that Australians can do is support Ukrainian refugees is through donation of money to various charities set up to give humanitarian aid to those that need it most. I know that Caritas, here in Australia has set up a specific Ukrainian fund to assist in this way – and I and my family support that organisation. However, there may be many other legitimate fund raisers that you may know via your own church group, that will be able to assist in this work of mercy. On behalf of all Australians of Ukrainian origin, I thank you and your parishioners for responding to this urgent call.