Soon we will celebrate Easter again!
At the entrance of the Red Square in Moscow, one must pass through the Resurrection (Iberian) Gate and with its Iberian Chapel. The Resurrection Gate has an icon on its wall which is a picture of the Risen Christ. In this picture the Risen Christ emerges victorious from a dark pit of dark despair, chains and destructive death elements. For Russians this is a symbolic picture promise of Mother Russia rising from the despair and shame of it past history.
The Resurrection Gate was re- established (rebuilt) in 1995 and is one of the most holy symbols for the Russian people. The Iberian Chapel contains an icon depicting the Mother of God, a symbol of the protector of Russia. In all Russian Cathedrals at Easter the Orthodox priest will shout out “Christ is Risen” and the congregants will answer “He is Risen indeed”. In the Russian mind there is no difference between Christ’s rising and the promise of a renewal risen Russia. That also includes Ukraine.
Religious passion and desire for seeing the ‘Empire’ restored is what drives Putin to do what he has done, even if the things that are now underway in the Ukraine are terrible, destructive of life and limb. This is a (national) holy war.
The leader of the dominant Russian Orthodox Church is Patriarch Kirill, a close friend of Putin. Kirill has described the invasion war in the Ukraine( according to AP report) – a conflict struggle against sin and pressure from liberal foreigners to hold “gay parades” justifying the war. The Ukrainians, he said, are exterminating Russians. He has refrained from criticizing the invasion and the bombardment of civilians. Ukraine must be cleansed. This has led to alienating many in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Meantime the voice of the Church worldwide is being heard. Many are praying for the people of the Ukraine and for the war to stop and peace to come soon. Letters signed by many leaders from various churches worldwide including the Reformed, Evangelical and World Wide Council of Churches have asked Kirill to mediate an immediate peace, and received this polite reply: “I pray unceasingly that by His power, the Lord help establish the lasting and justice-based peace as soon as possible…and that the religious world leaders will maintain an unbiased platform……” – (oikoumene.org) Does he know people or being killed and cities are blasted with missiles and bombs? That Ukrainian refugees (up to 2 million, women and children) are leaving all behind for the safety of other countries?
On March the 18th, a rally was held at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow (seating 80,000) where a flag waving crowd listened to a ‘near Biblical’ speech by Putin: “The military action is to liberate the people from the genocide and sufferings. This is the goal, I recollect the words from Holy Scripture: ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’. Shoulder to shoulder, they help and support each other,” the Russian president said of the Kremlin’s forces in a rare public appearance since the start of the war. “We have not had unity like this for a long time,” he added to cheers from the crowd. (AP & NBCnews report) Meantime destruction and bombs are raining and pounding on civilian building and military installations and Russian young men are paying a deadly price.
We have seen through the media, discontent in Russia over this war but it is small and overwhelmed by the ‘holy war’ gospel and the misinformation being speud out of the Communist propaganda media machine.
Make no mistake, this is a Holy War, this has to do with the soul of Mother Russia’s revival and honor. This is religion with politics which is a religion.
Does the secular political ‘West’ understand this? Some of our church leader are talking that this may be the ‘end of times’ and so in a round about way almost legitimizing Putin role as the hand of God. Oh, how foolish, Jesus – when others speculated when the last days might come -, he said : ‘But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.‘ (Gospel Matthew, Chapter 24)
Can Putin be stopped, can the war end, can peace come, …….honorably?
Maybe it is time again for the ‘West’ to put into practice President’s Theodore Roosevelt’s (1904) advice: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” (a West African proverb)
Pray for Truth to be told and above all, pray for Peace.
JS March 18, 2020