I went to Nashville this weekend to hear my friend Chris, under the musical moniker Son of Laughter, make music. It was a crazy, whirlwind trip—there one day, back the next—but, worn and sleepy upon my return, I couldn’t regret the decision to go.
The day before my departure, I’d heard the news of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, downed in Eastern Ukraine by a missile—of the lives lost, and the finger-pointing of blame. It is the kind of situation that could tip the tenuous balance in Eastern Ukraine toward all-out war.
On Friday morning before I got in the car to go to Nashville, I spoke with my sister in Singapore on FaceTime. “There was a family on the plane who are neighbors of my friend here,” she said. “Mother, father, daughter all were on the plane. Two teenage boys remain—one’s here in Singapore, the other is in Amsterdam for the summer holiday.” She paused. “If there was one family, there were more from Singapore. I’m going to be hearing these stories for a while.”
Two brothers, separated by thousands of miles, united by senseless loss.
Meal of Grace
Chris sang one of his new, unreleased songs at the concert on Friday night. The lyrics invite the listener to partake in a meal of grace, “The Meal We Could Not Make.” Looking around the table, Chris sings:
See the needy and unlovable
And many enemies.
I know that peace has never worked before
But this feast satisfies the thirst for war
For justice has been won
And mercy’s made us new.
So take and eat,
All the work is done.
Stretch out your feet
In the Sabbath sun.
With this bread, old ambitions break.
As we pour the wine, we feel our hungry hearts awake
To the meal we could not make.
Tears sprang to my eyes, sitting there in the front row listening to Chris’s voice and guitar. I’ve been watching the powder keg that is eastern Ukraine for months now. Ukraine is a country where the gospel has taken root and spread in the past 20+ years. The church there is rising up and taking the gospel to their neighbors and to the uttermost parts of the earth. As I’ve watched the news about the conflict in eastern Ukraine, I’ve been hearing stories from friends who live there, and hearing pleas from pastors for prayer—for peace in Ukraine.
“Peace has never worked before . . .”
This weekend, Pastor Ken Schmidt preached from the book of Romans, and he spent some moments on the strange phrase in 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Pastor Ken reminded us that the “peace” in this passage is the shalom of Scripture—the way the world ought to be. This verse is about the God who created shalom rightfully crushing the one who marred it.
We’re surrounded by marred shalom today. We see it in a passenger airliner downed by a missile meant by one warring party for another. We see it in two brothers on opposite sides of the world who have just lost their whole family.
And we can’t do anything about it. But we are invited to be part of the restoration of shalom.
We didn’t make the meal of grace. But we’ve been invited to it. We’ve tasted the food and been made new. Bring others to the table. Bring the pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian soldiers. Bring the families of those lost on Flight 17. Bring the Israelis and the leaders of Hamas. Bring the whole world—the table is big enough, but we must tell others about the feast.
“This feast satisfies the thirst for war/ For justice has been won/ And mercy’s made us new.”