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

Prayer for Ukraine

After six months of fighting for freedom.


The hope for peace.


Ukraine’s National Independence Day

Today is the 31 anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from Russia.  Their example reminds us that democracy is never free.

To follow the events first hand, anyone can subscribe to this online daily newspaper, the Kyiv Independent.

The photos and donation suggestions are from today’s edition.

Donations options from Kyiv Independent:

Another way to honor Ukraine on its 31st Independence Day is to donate directly to causes that support the Ukrainian army as it literally defends the country’s independence, and the Ukrainian population, as it has been facing tremendous challenges.

Here’s the list of organizations and charity funds that the Kyiv Independent responsibly recommends to those who want to support Ukraine in its darkest hour.


President Volodymyr Zelensky has launched platform UNITED24 as the one-stop shop for donating to Ukraine. The raised money are transferred to the official accounts of the National Bank and spent to cover the most pressing needs.

You can choose to donate to the military, to provide medical aid, or the future reconstruction of the Ukrainian settlements and infrastructure, damaged or destroyed by Russian shells and missiles.

Come Back Alive

Come Back Alive (Povernys Zhyvym) is the largest foundation for the Ukrainian military. It was born following the Russian invasion of the Donbas and the illegal occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Over the years, this organization, headquartered in Kyiv, has proven to be trustworthy and among the most effective charities.

The fund provides frontline fighters with auxiliary equipment, various vehicles, thermal imaging equipment, specialized software, drones, personal body protection, as well as training.


Hospitallers is a volunteer medical battalion that has participated in the war in Donbas since 2014, providing first aid, medical care, and evacuation of injured Ukrainian soldiers from the front lines.


Tabletochki is the most prominent Ukrainian charity that helps children with cancer. The organization funds medicines for children, arranges treatment overseas if unavailable in Ukraine, and helps pediatric oncology units by purchasing medical equipment and reagents for hospitals. Russia’s invasion made it more difficult for Ukrainians with cancer to access treatment, especially in the occupied territories, where there is practically no access to essential medicines.

Shelter (Prykhystok)

Prykhystok is a non-profit communication platform that connects people who offer free housing and Ukrainians fleeing war in search of it. The website lists options of various housing either in Ukraine or abroad. In addition to participating in the project by offering your housing to refugees, you can also donate in crypto or regular currency to help cover their operations.


ZooPatrol is a volunteer organization saving cats and dogs abandoned during the war. Volunteers feed animals on the streets and and bring them to vet clinics if they need treatment. The organization reports about its activity on Facebook and Instagram.

The Face of Freedom: July 4, 2022

Each generation learns the price of liberty.

This July 4th, America and  the world are  indebted to  Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine.  His courage and commitment  defending  freedom is a beacon that will shine throughout the ages.   

A Prayer Sung for Ukraine


On Ukraine

At the entrance to the memorial park in Kyiv, there is a sculpture of an extremely thin girl with a very sad look holding a handful of wheat ears in her hands. Behind her back is the Candle of Remembrance, a monument with details reminiscent of authentic embroidery that can be found on traditional Ukrainian costumes. This is a monument that commemorates a historical event known as the Holodomor.

What is the Holodomor?

After the end of the First World War, Ukraine was an independent state, but in 1919 the Soviet Union “sucked” it into the community of Soviet states. The Ukrainians, who even then considered themselves a Central European people like the Poles and not an Eastern European like the Russians, tried to restore Ukraine’s independence.

In 1932, not wanting to lose control of Europe’s main granary, Stalin resorted to one of the most heinous forms of terror against one nation. In the process of nationalization, he took away the grain-producing land from the Ukrainian peasants, but also all its offerings, thus creating an artificial famine.

The goal was to “teach Ukrainians to be smart” so that they would no longer oppose official Moscow. Thus the people who produced the most grain in Europe were left without a crumb of bread. The peak of the Holodomor was in the spring of 1933. In Ukraine at that time, 17 people died of hunger every minute, more than 1,000 every hour, and almost 24,500 every day! People were literally starving to death in the streets.

Stalin settled the Russian population in the emptied Ukrainian villages. During the next census, there was a large shortage of population. Therefore, the Soviet government annulled the census, destroyed the census documents, and the enumerators were shot or sent to the gulag, in order to completely hide the truth.

World War. Their poison gas was hunger. Their Hitler was Stalin. Their Holocaust was the Holodomor. For them, fascist Berlin was Soviet Moscow, and their concentration camp was the Soviet Union.

Today, 28 countries around the world present the Holodomor as genocide against Ukrainians, which you could not learn about in school, because almost all evidence was destroyed and victims were covered up for decades, survivors were forcibly silenced by not having the right to vote until recently.

The Holodomor at that time broke the Ukrainian resistance, but it made the desire for Ukraine’s independence from Russia eternal.  (I was sent this summary and do not know the source.)

From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Holodomor, man-made famine that convulsed the Soviet republic of Ukraine from 1932 to 1933, peaking in the late spring of 1933. It was part of a broader Soviet famine (1931–34) that also caused mass starvation in the grain-growing regions of Soviet Russia and Kazakhstan. The Ukrainian famine, however, was made deadlier by a series of political decrees and decisions that were aimed mostly or only at Ukraine. In acknowledgement of its scale, the famine of 1932–33 is often called the Holodomor, a term derived from the Ukrainian words for hunger (holod) and extermination (mor).


From Brooke  C. Stoddard, author who was at Holodomor Wreath Presentation at the Holodomor Memorial near the U. S. Capitol. He was asked by the Illinois State Society to participate on behalf of the Cleveland Club of Washington, D. C.

The Holodomor Memorial to Victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932–1933 was opened in Washington, D.C., United States, on November 7, 2015. Congress approved creation of the Holodomor Memorial in 2006.