We Will Wear Coats
Dear members of Christ Lutheran Church,
Please dress warm for church and bring your winter coats. Let me explain.
Few times in my life have I felt so helpless to help those who are suffering. As global superpower Russia invades smaller and less equipped neighbor Ukraine the images and reports from inside the country are both horrifying and disheartening.
I had a regular run of the mill sermon already written for Transfiguration Sunday. This may have to be scrapped. The question I have been asking myself is, what if anything can I do with regards to such a complex and difficult situation so far away? Then it finally dawned on me, I can turn down the thermostat.
Our European allies, especially Germany, have been hesitant to hit Russia with the most serious sanctions because of their dependence on Russian Natural Gas for heating. The price of Natural Gas like all things is the result of supply and demand worldwide. We do not import from Russia but if we use less that increases supply and lowers prices.
Ukrainians are crying out for help and the West is doing very little. I am ashamed. But I can do this small thing. Will it help? Probably not. This is an exercise of empathy. As Ukrainian women and children wearing winter coats huddle in subway stations with bombs falling overhead, we can sit in the pew, in the safety of our church with our winter coats on as well.
The church thermostats will be set to 62 F (17 C) for Sunday services, for those who may find this too difficult you may need to worship from home via the livestream.
I have lowered the thermostat at home as well, I encourage others to do the same. It's no problem to throw on a sweater and some wool socks.
I often have wondered historically, if I had been a pastor in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland what would I have said? Would I have just continued on like it was any other Sunday?
This is the largest war on European soil since then, and at least from what I can see, the good / evil contrast is equally as sharp. I do not want to send empty thoughts and prayers and do absolutely nothing, I want to do SOMETHING even if it is a small and symbolic gesture. I have been loathe throughout my career as a pastor to bring politics into the pulpit and I have not. I do not believe this is political, I believe this is calling evil what it is, and walking in empathy with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Silence in the face of evil is complicity.
There is a clear aggressor and a clear defender in this invasion. The Ukrainians are over matched but are fighting bravely. Already many heroes have risen to the occasion. We cry for all the innocents who are suffering, and pray for peace to be restored... Until then I will wear a coat, will you wear a coat with me?