Labor Day from Ukraine

The first day of school.  Pupils of the first grade attend a lesson in a classroom set up in a subway station in Kharkiv, on September 4, 2023. Children in Kharkiv attend classes in subway stations due to the threat of Russian shelling.

The road ahead.


Ukraine Update From the Weekend

On Sunday I heard two presentations by Dr. Ivan Rusyn, President, Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in Bucha.  The seminary sends help throughout the front lines.  Over 20 military chaplains have been killed in the war.

The country has adopted a policy that the men will not wear ties until the war is over-no politicians, no businessmen, no diplomats.   So he began wearing a priest’s collar so his vocation can be immediately identified.  “Our role is not just spiritual but to serve the whole person.”

Assistance-medical, meals, transportation- is extended to all persons regardless of any religious affiliation, a ministry he calls responding to the “unfamiliar neighbor.”

“Democracy is now a global affair.  It is tested everywhere if it fails anywhere.”

Meanwhile In Russia

Uneasy lies the head of an authoritarian government.  The Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin relationship changes quickly.

Putin’s Fixer:

Memorial Day 2023-Words in War’s Time

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, every day has been a “Memorial Day “ for a family somewhere in that country.

Four days ago Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a surprise commencement address to graduates of Johns Hopkins University by a live video link.

His country is in a war for its freedom.  Yet he took time to speak to 10,00 students and families of an American university’s graduating class.

The following are short excerpts from his ten minute speech in English.  They offer insight for how he views his leadership role.  These are words of discernment and character.

To the Johns Hopkins University Graduating Class of 2023:

Time is of the essence, and it is that essence that I would like to talk about today. One of the most common truisms on Earth is the advice to value, or at least not waste time. Why has it become so widespread?

Every person eventually realizes that time is the most valuable resource on the planet, not oil or uranium, not lithium or anything else, but time. Time.

The very flow of time convinces us of this. Some people realize this sooner, and these are the lucky ones. Others realize it too late when they lose someone or something. People cannot avoid it. This is just a matter of time. . .

Will you be able not to waste this time of your life? This topic seems trivial, but these are very, very difficult questions for every person. How you answer them is how you live. And while it is still possible to find new deposits of oil or lithium, and if in the future humanity can start mining resources in space, it is still purely science fiction to live longer than has been given. . .

Of course, I do not wish anyone to feel like they are in my shoes, and it’s impossible to give a manual on how to go through life so as not to waste its time.

However, one piece of advice always works. You have to know exactly why you need today and how you want your tomorrows to look like. You have to know this when you are a politician and have to achieve a certain goal for your country. You have to know this when you are a soldier and you have to defend your position so that the whole country is protected.

You have to know this when you just have to go through life. Sometimes, however, when you are young and when you are a student, you still need to waste some time. What is life without it? But only sometimes, and when no one else depends on you.

And I’m certain you, as your forefathers, will continue to lead the free world. And this century will be our century, a century where freedom, innovation, and democratic values reign. A century where tyrannies that repress their own and seek to enslave their neighbors will vanish from us once and for all.

But all of our tomorrows, and the tomorrows of our children and grandchildren, depend on each of our todays. On each of our todays.”  END of speech.

A Prophecy

From the Book of Haggai:  “The glory of this latter house  shall be greater than of the former. . .and in this place will I give peace.”

We  can pray that this is Ukraine’s destiny on this day of memories of lives lost in past and present wars.  Dona Nobis Pacem


Easter Hope


A citizen inspects a partially destroyed residential building after Russian shelling in the Saltivka district of Kharkiv on April 9, 2023. A prayer for Ukraine.


A Prayer, Photos and The Kiev Independent

The day of the Allied landings in France, June 6, 1944 FDR gave a prayer via radio for the country.

This six minute “devotion” is especially pertinent  on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as when it was first spoken in 1944.

Roosevelt talks of sacrifices and “pain, sorrow, faith and unity.”  He expresses everyone’s  longings and hopes for victory and peace. It is a prayer proper in any war and especially this day.


Why Ukraine Will Succeed

Love endures: Valentine’s Day 2023 Ukraine

The Next Generation Arrives: A Mother and Newborn in a Basement Maternity Room-Kiev

War’s Playground Today & for Tomorrow’s Peace

The Story of a New Journal: The Kiev Independent

This 29 minute video presents  the critical role this online English language startup has played in telling about events in Ukraine.  It includes reporters’ personal stories and presents videos of their on site coverage.  This is one of many new Ukrainian enterprises to support the country in this time of trial.



Practicing Faith at Christmas

Two days ago (January 15), the Orthodox Christian Church celebrated Christmas.

In the early hours of that same day, Russia launched ballistic missiles on Ukraine.  One strike hit an apartment complex in Dnipro killing over 40 civilian residents.

Some 12 hours later that Sunday afternoon, the Kiev Symphony Orchestra Chorus offered their annual Christmas concert, in a live broadcast on YouTube.

The program included dozens of familiar chorales but in very different musical arrangements.  Some had jazz rhythms; many had an almost martial beat with drums and other instruments asserting a very determined pace.

The church is full, fresh greens and wreaths are on the pillars, a snow covered house decorates the front of the stage. The audience all wear coats.  The 60 plus person choir appears young: mostly in their 30’s and 40’s. Men are in tuxes with red bow ties and women in beautiful holiday dresses.

The concert is sung in both Ukrainian and English with an Ukrainian narrator.  There are bell choir arrangements. It lasts one hour and 19 minutes.

You may want to scroll over to the 1:08 time in the program for the Chorus’ finale.  You will recognize this familiar excerpt from Handel.  The words are Ukrainian.  Their spirit will lift yours on this sacred day of celebration and human tragedy.

Courage, worship and hope in wartime.


Note: The KSOC was founded almost three decades ago by Music Mission Kiev following Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union.

The Most Powerful New Year’s Message-for Generations to Come

This 17-minute message from President Volodymyr Zelensky to his people and the world, is one of the most powerful speeches of my lifetime.

Listen, watch, and learn what transforms ordinary people into one common purpose.


How Three Generations in a Family Cope with War in Kyiv (3 minutes)


Today, we are all Ukrainians.

A New Christmas Carol-An Age Old Dream

“Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.”   The phrase captures not just  the message angels sang, but mankind’s eternal hope.   Every religious tradition makes peace a central theme.

The Sabaton “Carol”

There is Swedish heavy metal band SabatonFrom their website: “They are best known for their electrifying live concerts combining accomplished musical performances and a finely crafted stage show-including their full-sized tank drum-riser-with energy and laugher.  The band has headlined as far afield as North, America, Australia and Japan, and regularly fills arenas and takes top-billed also at festivals across Europe.”   

I had not heard of the group. 

One year ago they released a musical video, Christmas Truce, from their albumA War to End All WarsTheir music in  a 6-minute video is set in a very realistic reenactment  of the trench warfare that characterized the front in France.


The song honors December 24, 1914, when an unofficial Christmas truce was created on the Western Front. An act of trust and harmony, British and German soldiers mingled and played games together in the midst of one of the most atrocious events of the 20th century – World War I.

The background why the musical video was made and historical context are in this 25 minute video of a unique Christmas-inspired moment of peace in 1914.

This event was also portrayed in a movie, Joyeux Noël (”Merry Christmas”).   The 2005 film showed the drama of this day, depicted through the eyes of French, British, and German soldiers.

Sabaton’s musical video was released just  months before Russia invaded Ukraine February 2022.  Was it meant to be a harbinger, a foreboding, or just coincidence?  Lest we forget?

The Words

“Christmas Truce”

Oh, I remember the silence
On a cold winter day
After many months on the battlefield
And we were used to the violence
Then all the cannons went silent
And the snow fell
Voices sang to me from no man’s land

We are all, we are all, we are all, we are all friends

And today we’re all brothers, tonight we’re all friends
A moment of peace in a war that never ends
Today we’re all brothers, we drink and unite
Now Christmas has arrived and the snow turns the ground white
Hear carols from the trenches, we sing O Holy Night
Our guns laid to rest among snowflakes
A Christmas in the trenches, a Christmas on the front far from home

Madness (Madness)
Oh I remember the sadness (Sadness)
We were hiding our tears (Hiding our tears)
In a foreign land where we faced our fears (Faced our fears)
We were soldiers (Soldiers)
Carried the war on our shoulders (Shoulders)
For our nations (Nations)
Is that why we bury our friends? (Bury our friends)

We were all, we were all, we were all, we were all friends
(We’re friends)

And today we’re all brothers, tonight we’re all friends
A moment of peace in a war that never ends
Today we’re all brothers, we drink and unite
Now Christmas has arrived and the snow turns the ground white
Hear carols from the trenches, we sing O Holy Night
Our guns laid to rest among snowflakes
A Christmas in the trenches, a Christmas on the front far from home

We were all, we were all, we were all, we were all friends
(We’re friends)

And today we’re all brothers, tonight we’re all friends
A moment of peace in a war that never ends
Today we’re all brothers, we drink and unite
Now Christmas has arrived and the snow turns the ground white
A Christmas on the frontline, we walk among our friends
We don’t think about tomorrow, the battle will commence
When we celebrated Christmas we thought about our friends
Those who never made it home when the battle had commenced

A New Battlefield This Christmas

The center of Kiev in 1943

Today’s war in Kiev

Blankets and warm clothing given to Kiev residents

A soldier and a sleigh

The beauty of the season

On Veteran’s Day from Ukraine

“On behalf of all Ukrainians, Happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service.

“For almost 250 years the men and women of the United States armed forces have prevailed against tyranny, often against great odds. ​Your example inspires Ukrainians today to fight back against Russian tyranny. Special thanks to the many American veterans who have volunteered to fight in Ukraine, and to the American people for the amazing support you have given Ukraine. With your help, we have stunned the world and are pushing Russian forces back. Victory will be ours. God bless America and Slava Ukraini.”

Volodymyr Zelensky