St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Thursday. February 24, 2022
Ukraine, Texas and the Gospel
War in Ukraine
Be careful that you choose to listen to, and to read, the actual history of Ukraine – and pay attention to the work of Paul Manafort in weakening that country, and enabling Russia in its attempt to put Russian leaders in place. After that failed in 2014, recall that the Republican party platform severely weakened their traditional support for Ukraine when Manafort took over the Republican presidential campaign. Notice that it is irrational to say on one hand that the current president is weak and that Trump would have invaded Russia for doing this – and – at the same time, that Putin is a genius and that Russia should be supported as it invades Ukraine.
Please notice that the country is huge – and that Putin’s attacks yesterday and today are not only on the far eastern area which Putin says he wants – but into every part of the country. What he is trying to do is to re-establish the old Soviet Union – and his ambitions don’t end with Ukraine.
We really do need to pray for peace, because peace is of no interest to Russia, only raw power is – and not even to many Americans. It isn’t even of interest to many Christians. And prayer is work. It isn’t sentimental. It asks something of us.
But peace – the deep peace which comes from God, in which justice and mercy go hand in hand, and in which the kingdom of God can flourish – IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prayer is important. So is learning history. So, if we are Americans, is deciding to learn what makes for authentic and representative democracy, and supporting people’s freedom to determine their own political and social destiny. So is taking sides against fascism and autocracy.
Many of you will remember Mary Egger, the lovely Ukrainian Episcopalian from Kansas City who came several years ago to teach us how to make those beautiful Easter eggs of her parent’s country. She is devastated today. And that matters to me, because she does.
But thousands upon thousands of Ukrainian descendants live in our country right now, and this is shocking to them, too. Pray for them, and for peace and hope as they worry for families and friends in Ukraine.
Pray also for the Russian people, most of whom do not support this incursion into Ukraine, and who are even now protesting it at the risk of their very lives. Thousands have already been arrested and detained across Russia.
The reason some of us along with others stood to support women, and lgbtq persons a week ago is that the workshop which was presented at Southern Hills Baptist Church is widespread across our country. It offers bad theology and worse scriptural justification for denying the full and equal welcome of these persons in church and society. Now we see Governor Abbott of Texas demanding that parents of trans children be arrested for child abuse, that doctors and teachers must report any trans youth – presumably to remove them from their “criminal” families. All of the usual rhetoric is in full play – fears of grown men showering with little girls, etc.
It is quite possible to have differing opinions about whether trans athletes should compete against biological females. There is a lot of discussion about this within the trans community, too. But that is not the same thing as denying the reality of, or the acceptability of, trans persons in our society. I woke up distressed over Ukraine and proud of the Diocese of Texas. But here is a defiant tweet from the bishop of Texas:
” There is no requirement for anyone to report the existence of trans kids or their parents in one of our Episcopal Churches or schools. The governor’s statement has no force of law. ALL people are welcome in churches of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas without fear – we offer only love.”