Haven’t we seen this before? Pastor Thoughts on the Cycles of History.

For the first part of this week, I couldn’t shake feeling tired and worn out with a mild sense of impending doom. I am sure we have all been there lately. 

There are of course many possible reasons:

Omicron which has certainly broken us and changed this whole pandemic on its head. 

Then there were the “trucker/freedom” protests/ occupations happening across Canada. 

And the question of war that has been lingering in the air over Russia and Ukraine. 

When the news of troop movements followed by explosions and the real outbreak of war, it all started falling into place. 

I have seen this before… I think?

When I was in university, I had a predilection for two areas of study. The first was theology and Christian history, which probably seems obvious. The second was 20th Century history, particularly the two World Wars. In university I was often schlepping between theology classes and history of modern warfare classes. 

Though, I probably sounded like a raving lunatic to most, I have often thought there is a similarity between the past 20 years of history and the period between World War One, the Great Depression and World War Two. 

History can be viewed in cycles, and this 70 year period of relative economic and political peace for much of the (western) world has been an unusual blip on the timeline of humanity.

Finally this week the peace that the western world has known since 1945 was breached. There is now conflict on the soil of Europe for the first time since the Nazis were defeated. 

Our place in the cycle of history seems more assured now, and this is what I have “seen” before.

The war on terrorism and its intractability rings too true with World War One. This pandemic has had similar effects on us as did the Great Depression. And now the Russian Invasion of Ukraine is straight out of Adolf Hitler’s playbook, even down to the speech Vladimir Putin gave this week justifying his attack.

Even if western sanctions, the bravery of ordinary Ukrainian folks and political turmoil back in Russia ends this war before it spreads too far, the damage is done. The balance of our world’s order is forever altered. 

Now what does that have to do with us? With Christians about the world? Lutherans in Canada? With neighbourhood congregations?

Today, we don’t know yet. 

But I suspect it has something to do with our calling as people of faith. The world is stumbling from crisis to crisis. Institutions of governments and power are failing at providing an equitable and just world. People are on the edge. 

And as followers of Jesus, we have a message, a gospel promise that speaks directly to a suffering and dying world.

For people in need of hope, we follow a God of Hope. 

For people in need of new life, we are made alive in a God of empty tombs and resurrection. 

For people in need of love and mercy, we are called to care for a world in need.

As difficult as it is to be the church these days, the world has never needed us more. 

And so we keep following, know that wherever this world is headed, God in Christ is right there with us, giving us what we need.  


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