Guest Post by Jacob Leporacci, Professor of Worship at TBC
This Friday, in place of regularly scheduled chapel services, you are invited to take some time during the eleven o’clock hour to offer a prayer on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are fighting for their lives and their freedoms at this very moment in Ukraine.
If we truly believe that we are the Body of Christ, and echo with Paul, “one body, one faith, one Lord, one baptism,” then we must rise up and tend the wounds of our hurting members. Just as we would not ignore a disease within our internal organs simply because they cannot be seen, we must not neglect to care for those who are part of our spiritual family merely because they are in distant parts of the world.
By turning our attention on the plight of others, we defeat the spirit of complacency, pride, apathy, and ungratefulness so prevalent in our society and in our churches.
As we turn our eyes on the suffering of those, not just in Ukraine, but throughout the world, we enlarge our vision. We see the Church holy and universal, reaching around the globe and spanning past, present, and future. We acknowledge that God is bigger than any mere place, time, or culture, and we are bonded together in the unity of the Spirit. We stand in thankfulness for the God who has proven faithful throughout all generations, and we testify in glorious worship, surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, that our God who has delivered His people in the past, will vindicate His blessed saints, whether it be in this life or the next.
Though music often tends to lend itself to divisiveness, today, I would like us to consider its unifying power.
Christianity Today recently published an article containing five Ukrainian worship songs, and I was so moved as I listened to the songs in the native language of our suffering fellow Christians. I hope you will take a moment to listen to the song below, and as you listen, allow yourself to imagine the Ukrainian believers that have uttered these words over the years. These words that may have once seemed all too familiar and routine are now the lifeblood that will sustain their faith in their darkest hours.
Allow yourself to imagine fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and friends, whose lives have been devastated by the thirst for power and money.
Allow yourself to imagine them just a few weeks ago standing in their churches, gathered with their friends, lifting their voices in praise, just as perhaps you were and will be again this coming Lord’s Day. Allow yourself to imagine them now, running for their lives, hiding in bomb shelters, suffering such great loss, and wondering what tomorrow will hold. Then, allow yourself to imagine them in these unfathomable conditions clinging to the words of the songs that testify of God’s love and His ability to sustain us in our times of great trouble and testing. May their prayer be our prayer, for we ourselves may not be far from needing the community of Christ to rally around us as well.
May we lift our voices with all of creation and with Christians around the world who groan under the curse of sin, death, and the evils of war.
May our prayer be for the Father to hasten the return of our Prince of Peace and place all the enemies of righteousness under his feet!
I invite you now to listen to this song of Ukrainian believers, their testimony, their cry to God, and unite your heart with theirs. A prayer has also been provided below to guide your thoughts.
This song is titled “до Теье”, which means “To You,” which is a pretty well-known song, especially in evangelical circles. The artist, Andriy Hryfel, was a significant young leader, pastor/elder, worship leader and songwriter who died suddenly last year.
The translated lyrics are as follows:
I run to You Lord, I run to You Lord.
The warmth of Your hands restores faith in my every step
Your grace gives me the strength to go
You are my wisdom, in You I can go through everything.
I have longed for you all my life
I look forward to meeting You in heaven
To Thee my love, To Thee my paths,
I obey you again to keep my faith.
I long for you as a baby longs for mother,
As the dry land longs for the rain, I long for You.
I look at you when I am exhausted in the struggle,
I pray to You, because I believe my victory is in You,
I stand on the Word, this world will not overcome Your love
I love you, I live for you, you are my God.
Prayer for the Ukrainian People:
God of peace and justice,
We pray for the people of Ukraine today.
We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons.
We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow,
that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them.
We pray for those with power over war or peace,
for wisdom, discernment and compassion
to guide their decisions.
Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear,
that you would hold and protect them.
We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.