All means all

Yesterday, on the 3rd day of the Assembly, Europe was the focus of the thematic plenary. In our morning devotion we started the day with the prayer „All means all“.

We gather this morning by the oasis at
God’s invitation.
In God we know that all are welcome…
All means all.
Yet in our hearts we know we do not
follow these words.
The compassionate Jesus reveals that all
means all…
All are welcome.
It is not for us to decide who receives
God’s generosity.
The Spirit empowers us to show that all
are welcome…
All means all.
Let us pause and face one another,
extending welcome to everyone so that all
means all…
All are welcome.
All are welcome.
All means all.
All means all.
All are welcome.

The focus of the Europe Plenary was the Russian war against Ukraine and the consequences for the whole of the world. Representatives of Ukrainian churches expressed their gratitude for being able to speak for themselves. They told of the horrors of war, of the tiredness of the people after six months of war, but also of the courage and hope of the people.

“For more than three centuries, the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union has tried to erase the uniqueness of Ukrainian people,” said Archbishop Yevstratiy of Chernihiv and Nizhyn from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. “But, we are successfully fighting for our freedom, for our independent future.” He appreciated the ecumenical organisations for their strong position about the Russian aggression and their appeals to the Russian Patriarch Kirill. “No one has the right to bless aggression, no one has the right to justify war crimes and acts of genocide,” he said.

General secretary of the Conference of European Churches Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen highlighted how “Ukraine is a concern not only for Europe but for the world.”

“Due to our recent European past, war on European soil brings connotations that transcend their actual time and place in history. It evokes long-gone memories. And it challenges a strong European trust that this part of the world has – or had – developed into a post-war continent of lasting peace,” he said.

He emphasized the theological dimension: human beings are not only good, they are trapped in hunger for power, in greed, in enmity, they are just and „sinful“. We need Christ’s love to encourage us to resist evil and work for peace.

The parable of the Good Samaritan was again the focus that day as biblical text. Dagmar Pruin, director of Bread for the World, asked: Who are we in this conflict? Do we look away or watch? Are we rushing past? How can we help? We must help those who have fallen among the robbers, but we must also help ensure that the robbers are held accountable and that people can live safely again.

The question remains: What can we, each and every one, and politicians do so that a path to peace becomes visible on the horizon?

Our contribution as the Center for Ecumenism to the topic of war and peace is the exhibition „Frieden geht anders! Aber wie? Examples of civil conflict resolution“ in the program of the General Assembly.

 

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