by Rose Marie Berger
for Word and Way
“God shall judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Waiting. Isn’t that what Advent is all about?
During Advent, we wait for something that is coming — we prepare for an arrival. We think of it as a joyful season, a season of sweet anticipation.
But Advent is also a season of fasting, of hunkering down, of stripping away what is known to prepare for what is unknown.
Here is a different kind of Advent story, a different kind of spiritual pilgrimage.
On Feb. 21, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced publicly that he would recognize the eastern regions of the sovereign nation of Ukraine as part of Russia. Three days later, Putin launched a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine. Within minutes of his announcement, missiles from Russian launch sites began exploding in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Donbas. Essentially, all corners of Ukraine came under aerial attack.
Less than two weeks later, the Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, issued an astounding invitation to religious leaders around the world.
“I make an appeal to the world’s spiritual leaders to take a stand and assume the moral function that is incumbent upon them, and to proudly assume the responsibility of their religions for peace,” said Klitschko. “Come to Kyiv to show their solidarity with the Ukrainian people. To show their compassion, and to join together in a spirit of harmony that my country and the whole world needs. Let us make Kyiv the capital of humanity, spirituality, and peace.”
Eleven weeks later an international interreligious delegation boarded a bus from Poland and headed into war-torn Ukraine destined for Kyiv. I was part of that first delegation to answer Mayor Klitschko’s call…