Lenten Devotion 3/4/2022

Lenten Devotion 3

After the prayer vigil for solidarity with the people of Ukraine this past Wednesday, I was interviewed by Fox News. Here are the two quotes that were used in the story:

“Our calling is to show love to all people and to all of creation,” said Rev. Kim Wells of Lakewood United Church of Christ.

“Because of where I was standing, I could watch the people from this parish,” said Wells, “and seeing their faces and how moved they were to see this, it really stirred the heart.”

Here’s what they didn’t put in the story. I was asked a leading question about Vladimir Putin. Something like, Based on the religious perspective of America, what do you think of Putin? The interviewer went on to insinuate that Russia did not support religion. The godless communists. . . First, I commented on the
presumption of America having a religious perspective. A religions perspective. I do not think America has a unified religious orientation or perspective. We have many different religious expressions. Even within the same faith tradition. And I believe that is as it should be in a country that values freedom of religion.

Next, Putin. I told the interviewer that from a Christian perspective, Putin, damaged and misguided as he may be, is still a child of God and worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.

So to me, these responses are a reflection of the wildness of mercy. Yes, in our country there are many different expressions of just Christianity before you get to other religions. Our faith tradition is not monolithic or homogenous. Maybe that is the wildness of mercy in that we are not all forced to be fundamentalists, say. Or Catholics. We are free to respond to the gospel and the workings of Divine Love in many different ways. And somehow, someway, Love persists and prevails. To me, that is the wildness of mercy.

And Putin. Well, he is a child of God. And to be treated as such. And that’s the wildness of mercy. Even someone who starts a predatory war causing death and destruction with negative, harmful ripple effects around the globe is still a human being, created in the Divine image and beloved by God. That is the wildness of mercy!

And maybe we will see the wildness of mercy when the ‘godless’ Russian people rise up to unseat their current leader. Who knows?

What we do know is that there is wildness in God’s mercy. And we are all the better for it!

Prayer: Think of someone that you really don’t like, that you disagree with, maybe even that you hate. And remember that whoever that is, whatever that person has done, whatever that person thinks and believes, they are still embraced by the love of God. Mercy is wild. Amen.

Note: After church this Sunday, LUCC member Bill Parsons will lead a discussion about the war in Ukraine. He will give some background information and respond to questions from those gathered. Bill is a retired history professor from Eckerd College. His specialty was Russia/USSR. He was instrumental in establishing the sister city relationship between St. Petersburg, FL and St. Petersburg, Russia. Bill has also fostered many other connections between Florida and Russia including the sister church relationship between LUCC and St. Job’s in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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