As the unimaginable continues to unfold in the Ukraine, the call for those of us distant from the situation is not a call to virtue signaling, but to any kind of tangible action we can take. I trust that we are teaching our kids to do the same. Yes, it’s good to be aware and to publicly state that we stand with the Ukraine on social media and in the streets, but more is required. Today, we have a wonderful opportunity to teach our children and teens that virtue signaling and performative posting is self-serving and glorifying rather than God-glorifying and neighbor-serving.
This morning, I want to encourage you as a leader of children and teens. . . those of you who are parents and youth workers. . . to take two first steps as a family and/or as a youth ministry.
First, we must give. The humanitarian crisis is stunning. It’s easy to turn the channel and watch “something funny” or some other kind of screen-mediated diversion. Instead, I would encourage you to watch and then respond with generosity to those who have left everything and are now trying to survive with nothing. There are numerous vetted aid organizations to which we can all donate TODAY! Let me point you to two that I’m aware of. Our own church’s missions organization m- Mission To The World – is funneling money that our churches in the Ukraine can distribute as they minister to this suddenly most-vulnerable of populations. You can link to get more information and make a donation here. In addition, the Philadelphia Ukrainian Education and Cultural Center has a vetted list of humanitarian organizations on their website.
Second, we must pray. This morning, I share this prayer from the Puritan prayer book The Valley of Vision that we can pray on behalf of those who are now experiencing the unimaginable. The prayer is simply title “Conflict”. . .
O LORD GOD,
Thou art my protecting arm,
fortress, refuge, shield, buckler.
Fight for me and my foes must flee;
Uphold me and I cannot fall;
Strengthen me and I stand unmoved, unmoveable;
Equip me and I shall receive no wound;
Stand by me and Satan will depart;
Anoint my lips with a song of salvation
and I shall shout thy victory;
Give me abhorrence of all evil,
as a vile monster that
defies thy law, casts off thy yoke,
defiles my nature, spreads misery.
Teach me to look to Jesus on his cross
and so to know sin’s loathsomeness in thy sight.
There is no pardon but through thy Son’s death,
no cleansing but in his precious blood,
no atonement but his to expiate evil.
Show me the shame, the agony, the bruises
of incarnate God,
that I may read boundless guilt in the
May I discern the deadly viper in its real malignity,
tear it with holy indignation from my breast,
resolutely turn from its every snare,
refuse to hold polluting dalliance with it.
Blessed Lord Jesus, at thy cross
may I be taught the awful miseries from which
I am saved,
ponder what the word ‘lost’ implies,
see the fires of eternal destruction;
Then may I cling more closely to thy broken self,
adhere to thee with firmer faith,
be devoted to thee with total being,
detest sin as strongly as thy love to me
And may holiness be the atmosphere
in which I live.