Well done! Yes, we are a parish that seeks to form the spirit and soothe the soul, but we’re also a place that seeks to care for the body and our neighbor as well. How do I know? See the ambulance below! Father Andriy, the priest for Holy Trinity Ukrainian church, texted me this photo the other day with the caption: “Your donations at work!”
Epiphany Parish has donated $75,000 to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to help out during this murderous invasion.
Like many of you, I follow the news of this war closely. I can hardly help to do otherwise given the steady diet I am being fed by our news outlets. And of course, it does cross my mind: “Why doesn’t our God do something to put an end to this war?” But we know enough to know that God loves us more than that. We know enough to know that God has a vision for our lives that is bigger than the mortality of our bodies. Which is why we can say: “The bad thing is not the last thing.” It is why we can say: “We are always perfectly safe in the Kingdom of God.” These are core aphorisms at Epiphany. They say volumes about our theological framework.
No doubt, some of you will say, however: “That’s not the God I want to believe in!” I suppose it is not what God would look like if we could design God, because most of us would design God to be exactly like us, only with super-duper double super-duper powers. And that is why, I suppose, we are not God. God’s pattern, God’s plan, God’s capacity, God’s nature is something we can understand just a teeny-weeny bit by understanding three years of the life of Jesus. Outside of that, God starts to get mysterious. The only thing we know for sure is that God is Love, which makes God different than me. While I am made of love, as the substance of love is the nature of our souls after all, I only choose to employ the characteristics of love episodically, and sometimes accidentally; a lot of times I make decisions that don’t seem all that loving. Everybody can be pretty glad that I’m not God.
But I do trust God, and I’m grateful to God for the freedom that God has given me to choose the love I do stumble across and that I do employ. I am also grateful to God for creating souls, all souls, for eternity. Which is why we can say: “The bad thing is never the last thing.” Which is why we can say: “We are always perfectly safe in the Kingdom of God.”
It is important to remember that love can exist completely in the presence of pain and suffering. Pain and suffering are not the same as safe. Safe is a state of the soul. Pain and suffering are realities, arguably undeniable realities, that all people experience. Why? Maybe so we can raise money to buy an ambulance. Maybe it is pain and suffering that allows us to empathize with what our siblings in the Ukraine are going through. Maybe it softens us just a little bit. Sometimes when I’m in pain and in need of consolation it calls forth the best of other people.
I think I can say that is the case for you, Epiphany. Your generosity to our Ukrainian siblings says something about the beauty of your souls. I am proud of you. Well done. Thank you.