“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”(Luke 24:1-5 NRSV)
Eastern Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar, so as many of us Christians celebrate Easter today, we ask ourselves how on earth the Ukrainian people will be able to observe Easter next Sunday with many of their churches destroyed, their people dispersed around the world, and the nation lying in tatters. What I do know without a doubt is that they will not only observe Easter, they will celebrate it. In the face of death and destruction and inhumanity, we have witnessed their courage and determination and defiance.
Many would expect no less from such a people who have known such conditions throughout their history.
There is an apocryphal story told of a speech given in 1930 in Kyiv, Ukraine, by a famous Russian communist leader, Nicolai Ivanovich Bukharin. He was a very powerful man, editor of the Soviet journal Pravda and author of numerous works on political science and economics that are still read today. The topic of his speech was atheism, which is of course a tenet of Marxism. For more than an hour before the huge assembly, he addressed his hardest hitting arguments against Christianity. Rational proofs and insults put down the historic faith of the Ukrainian people. When he finished, he looked out over what he assumed to be the smoldering ash heap of the crowd’s faith and asked if there were any questions.
Then one man came down to the front, and stood next to the famous speaker. He looked over the audience, left and right, and then shouted the Easter greeting of the Orthodox Church. “Khrystos voskres!” (Christ is risen!) And the people in their thousands stood on their feet and shouted back, “Voistynu voskres!” (He is risen indeed!)
A young Ukrainian couple taught me a common greeting in Ukrainian: “Slava Isusu Khrystu” (Glory to Jesus Christ!) to which we were to respond with “Slava naviky” (Glory forever!)
This might be the most powerful greeting that you can offer another this Easter season. This might also be the beginning of resurrection for the Ukraine and for all of us.
Prayer: In times like the world now faces, with war and disease and degradation of the environment all around us, we ask You to shine Your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world for Your glory and purposes. Where there is hatred let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness joy. We offer this prayer for a world that so desperately needs Your presence and healing. Thanks be to You, God, for Your indescribable gift! Amen.
Copyright © 2022, by Kenn Stright <firstname.lastname@example.org>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada
Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission