A reflection on war in Ukraine

Rt Revd Adrian Newman

Written by: Miguel Ferrer on Feb 28, 2022. Category: News

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My grandfather was a ‘runner’ in the trenches of the First World War, and my father was an artillery captain in World War Two. I hoped that in my lifetime we would not see another war in Europe. But here we are, hardly able to believe what is happening just a short flight away in Ukraine.

Our thoughts are with those caught up in the horror that war brings – bloodshed and loss, pain and suffering, trauma and fear, and the inevitable ‘othering’ of those we fight, when neighbours become enemies. Already the images overwhelm us and are seared on our consciousness.

We must, of course, resist evil. We must also love our enemies. That is an almost impossible line to walk at a time like this, but we have to try.

As followers of Christ we have a vision for a new kind of society, where peace and justice prevail. Jesus called it the Kingdom of God, and contrary to all appearances he said you could reach out and almost touch it. We have a word to describe what happens when you try to do this - it’s called prayer.

Prayer is a legitimate Christian response to the war in Ukraine. So is action: we are being called to humanitarian support, an openness to refugees, a willingness to endure the economic cost of sanctions, public demonstration and private witness.

This is also a moment for personal honesty. We must attend to all those little wars which make up the fabric of our everyday lives, those micro aggressions where we choose to put our own desires before the needs of others. It is the accumulation of those little wars that creates the big war. All of us bear some responsibility.

After 9/11, the argument raged about how we could defeat terror, and a simple Christian, listening to the litany of military experts talking about bombing this and destroying that and hitting at the heart of the other, said: the only way to defeat terror is to out-imagine it.

That is our task in prayer, word and action, because ultimately war is a failure of imagination and the primacy of love.

Rt Revd Adrian Newman
CUF Bishop in Residence
February 2022