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Fat Tuesday

Today we feast… because tomorrow Lent begins…
That  is how  the letter  I  wrote  last  week began.  I  was trying  to  work ahead so  that  I could  go on vacation  without  the ministry  skipping a beat, so I  wrote  my Tuesday letter  for  March 1st on February 22nd .  Great idea,  right?  But then  the world  exploded, literally.  Bombs  dropping on schools  and apartments… parents and children  running for  their lives… critically  ill  babies  lying  on the  cement  floor  of  a bomb shelter… refuges surging  at t he borders desperately trying to escape… fathers kissing their  little ones goodbye at the  border  so that they could  go back to fight  for  their  country.   And all  this because  of the greed  of a power hungry cares  nothing  for  the  lives  lost  in his  lan man who d  grab.

Putin claims that he  must  make  this  move for  the security of  his country, to protect his  own  borders from  the threat of NATO.  But  international law prohibits  a nation from  forcefully  taking  land belonging  to another  sovereign nation.  This  incur sion  into Ukraine is an act of war  that  must be  denounced by all, yet  there are some leaders and  news commentators  in our  nation  who have actually praised Putin for  his  actions.   We have heard words like:  “genius”… “ In the  light of th savvy ”…  “wonderful” .  e horrible scenes  coming  out  of Ukraine,  those  same voices  have  tried to back pedal, but their words are already  out  in social  media,  being used by  Russia  to justify Putin’s  actions to his own people.  already postur True to form, our political  leaders are ing, thinking beyond  this crisis to  the “midterm” elections  that are coming.  How can we think of politics when  a nation has  been  invaded?

Imagine  for  a  moment if our nation were  attacked  by a foreign  power.  Some of remember  Pearl  Harbor.  Most of  us us remember  the attacks on September  11, 2001.  Imagine  if we had tanks rolling down our streets and bombs  destroying our homes and schools.   Imagine if our  little ones  knew the  terror  of war  in their  homeland.  Scenes  of a mother  in  tears at the b order children … as she  desperately tries to shelter  her traffic stalled as  people attempt to flee  leaving  their  homes behind already scarred by bombs …… children  armed with  machine  guns to defend their country these  scenes playing out horrify us.   In Putin,  we see the  face  of evil.  But  all  this  is cities half a world away.  How  many grieve  what we see  on our  TV screens  but complain  more about the  rise  in our  gas  prices  and the drop  of  the stock  market.

Today  is “Fat Tuesday”begins. It is  tradition Wednesday on th the day before Lent e day before  Ash to  eat donuts and pancakes…  and anything else that we  might give up  before we begin our  Lenten “sacrifice.”   Eat  today for tomorrow  we fast.   This is the  day  I  usually binge on  M&Ms even if I am not planning to them  up  for  Lent.  A little extra chocolate never  hurts!  This Fat Tuesday tradition has  always been just  a little fun before the  serious season  of Lent begins.  But  the realities  in  Ukraine have shrouded even  this day  with seriousness.  It  is ha g give rd to have a playful  binge  when evil  is surging, and lives  are being lost.  As  I  write this letter, the world  is holding  its collective breath  wondering what the  right  next move should be.  How do you respond to such evil, without  escalating the battle int o more countries with  more lives  lost?   Is there any hope  of  saving  the drawn back  under  the control of  Russia ? people  of Ukraine from  being Our  allies  sit on  the borders of Ukraine  in harms way.  Thousands  of our own  men  and women  serving  in the  armed forces stand ready to defend their borders. Their  families  at home wait in fear.  We watch… shielded by  distance,  feeling helpless.  But  are we?

Our  faith teaches us  that we are never  helpless in the  face  of One  who has  already  won t he  victory. evil  because we know the What is going  on in the world, should  find  us on our  knees, trusting the only One  who is able to fight  this battle.  Today I join  Pope Francis in  calling Christians  to fast  and pray for  peace…  to pray for  the people of Ukraine…  to pray for  their  neighbors as  they receive refugees  who are fleeing the violence… to pray for  God’s shield of  protection on  our troops… to pray  for  wisdom for  our leaders and  the  leaders of other  free  nations  as  they work for  peace… to  pray for  what we  cannot  imagine, but God  can  create.  We know the One  who can do “immeasurably  more  than all  we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians  3:20) While our brothers and sisters in  Ukraine take up arms, we will  fall  to our knees.   Let us join believers around the  world, committing ourselves to prayer on behalf  of  the Ukrainian  people.

With  you on  my  knees,
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