And there will be wars and rumors of wars…

Many of us grew up practicing air raids, waiting for bombs of increasing sophistication with each generation, sending us under our desks at school.  Many in my age group were terrified by the movie, The Day After, that aired as a demonstration of what nuclear war could look like.  

If any of us have experienced our own trauma at the hands of someone who treated others inhumanely and appeared uncaring and unstoppable, times like these with leaders acting as their worst possible selves and even our own political leaders supporting them can trigger feelings of helplessness and fatalism.

In short, we are scared.  We grieve watching others discplaced from their own homes and streets and it is traumatizing to watch others being traumatized when we feel we can do nothing about it.  Walking out of a concert last night into a beautiful evening with joy and laughter and singing all around, I turned to my beloved to say, “It feels weird being so happy knowing what Ukranian civilians are going through at this very moment.”  We feel guilty for enjoying our safe life while theirs is being torn apart. 

All these challenging feelings can be so hard to be with that we go numb, block them out, shut them down.  Yet we cannot afford to, and need not fall into, paralysis and helplessness.  There is much that we can do!

First, we can pray.  Never underestimate the power of all of us uniting our hearts to care for the plight of others.  And, when we pray, it changes us and our hearts so we can be the change we wish God to produce in our world.

Second, we can give.  The UCC is collecting funds working in partnership with our cousins of faith in the Reformed Church of Hungary.  Many are booking Air B&Bs in Ukraine while making it clear they will not be coming, then communicating directly with the owners to offer support while others are buying art and other goods from persons in that region.  Yes, we must be careful of scams, so research on-line for safe ways to offer these kinds of support that will do the most direct good to those who need it most, but do not let fear of needing to get your efforts just right stop you from doing something.

Third, we can reflect.  In this Lenten Season, we are called inward to consider areas in which we could stand to grow that we may have missed seeing previously.  For instance, many, such as my friend and colleague, Rev. Jim Rigby, is challenging us in his Facebook posts to consider why we are so much more heartbroken over the invasion of predominantly Caucasian countries while turning a blind eye to the conflicts being waged upon countries of black and brown persons.  In far more of these invasions than we realize, WE are the invaders. 

Splinters and logs can get tricky, sometimes.  But it does not mean we are excused from taking a look to see if there is something new our God of justice and peace wishes to show us.

We are not helpless.  We can take action.  We are not alone.  We can stand with others and our siblings around the world by speaking up for causes of peace, for service of those pushed to the margins or left out of them completely at our worlds various types of borders.

We can let it begin with us, but how we respond to the crisis in Ukraine and those right outside our doorstep in New Braunfels as far too many are left without a physical home OR without a faith family that accepts them as they are.  May God lead us to find new ways to speak, reach out, act, serve, love, include, and be the living hope for a different city where all are welcomed and housed and fed and safe, a different county and state and country and world where the same is true.

We who proclaim in A New Creed, “In life, in death, in life after death, God is with us.  We are not alone!  Thanks be to God.  Amen.” have an assurance and source of hope that not all persons have.  Let us get out from under our desks and look up, Children of God.  We were created for such a time as this, and the world needs our compassionate minds and fierce hearts of service now, more than ever.

And let it begin with us.

Peace, Pastor Carla