Through the Pastor’s Desk by Todd Walsh
I share a prayer with you in this column. It comes from Dietrich Brauer, Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia. He wrote and published it after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
Dear brothers and sisters of Russia and Ukraine, peace be with you! Don’t stop praying together for peace and opposition to evil. This is commanded by Christ. And may God keep us all in this difficult time in his faithful hands! Lord, have mercy on us sinners.
“Peace, as his precious alliance,
The Lord has given us to keep.
He the reconciler of all the universe,
Promised the victory of life.
But how many times have we still trampled
In the dirt his sacred gift,
And declared unfounded,
There will never be a war.
Lord have mercy on us sinners
And pour out your grace.
That hell does not devour
Your foolish children.
Grant enlightenment to blind rulers,
Put your love in their hearts.
Send the arrogant warning.
Don’t let the blood of the innocent be shed.
After all, no one will find their paradise
By strength, power and wealth.
Peoples, countries, human fraternity
Lives only on you, Lord.
Yours in the love of Christ,”
— Dietrich Brauer, Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia
Recall that Russia has approved a law essentially banning public opposition to the war against Ukraine. The above prayer and a sermon Archbishop Brauer preached after the war started caught the attention of the authorities and put him in danger. Archbishop Brauer therefore fled Russia with his wife and three children. They are safe in Germany. And he and his wife, who is also a pastor, continue their opposition to the war and from afar they also continue their ministry with their flock in Russia.
The Moscow Lutheran Cathedral shares its space with a Baptist congregation. And they organized together the sending of relief to the refugees who are in Russia. They also support efforts in Ukraine to deliver relief and help people to leave Ukraine.
The sermon that jeopardized Bishop Brauer’s safety speaks to what motivates him and the people he serves.
“It is God’s business, Christ’s business to bring the sacrifice of love, of redemption, of forgiveness, so that there will be no more senseless human sacrifices. The cross was erected at Calvary to get us out of the bloody vicious cycle. The holy God humbles himself in the guise of a servant, a criminal, an outcast and a worthless people to touch our hearts and fill them with peace so that we can regain dignity and humanity. Jesus did everything for that. And he is always on his mind with us.
God bless Dietrich Brauer and all those he serves. And may the same God bless us, inspire us, and move us all to serve that God and live that life as redeemed humanity and at peace.
Todd Walsh is Director of Spiritual Care Services at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community in Albert Lea.