As I write today, on April 24, it’s Eastern Orthodox Easter Sunday in Ukraine, one week later than on our Church Calendar; in the east, based on the Julian calendar rather than on the Gregorian calendar in the west.
The Easter faith is the same, with just the timing being different. With the smoke and ashes of battle in the air and ruins of bombed-out buildings all around, I’m left wondering how believers can gather for worship in churches and even how delicate Ukrainian Easter eggs survive.
Yet pictures we see and stories we read tell of a resilient people rising with hope against hope to boldly save their cities and reclaim the countryside! Did you see the farmers salvaging enemy tanks that ran out of gas or whose drivers abandoned them and simply ran? Their video is one of joyful resistance and national pride.
Now come the questions, “Will they plant? Can they fight and plant at the same time? What will they plant? Do they have the seed? Will the colors of the Ukrainian flag appear on the horizon … the blue of the sky, and the golden yellow of ripened grains across the fields?”
I just got my seeds, not of wheat or corn, but sunflower seeds! I bought one packet of Heirloom Mammoth Greystone Sunflower seeds that will grow 10 feet tall, and I bought one packet of Dwarf Hybrid Junior Yellow Sunflower seeds that will grow just 2 feet tall in pots!
I’ll plant just a few in my yard and in pots to declare my solidarity with the Ukrainians and to show the same to friends and passersby! I’ll share a few seeds with my children and grandchildren so they can do the same and be mindful and aware of the terrible plight of the Ukrainians and of their valor, one even brave enough to put a few seeds in an enemy soldier’s pocket!
Sunflowers are tough and resilient and united as one out in the field! In the morning sun, the whole field of flowers faces to the east, looking to the sun. In the afternoon, every yellow blossom turns together to the sun in the west! This metaphor of God’s creating reminds believers to “look full in God’s wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of God’s glory and grace!” (The hymn’s title is “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”)
Even blind Helen Keller knew of this amazing phenomenon when she wrote, “Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what the sunflower does.”
I think there’s going to be a run on sunflower seeds. I’d love it if I’d see a few yellow blossoms within sight this summer and fall around every neighborhood in town and in the country all around, too!
It’s the right time to plant sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine!
Editor’s note: EPLN contributor Pastor Rod Anderson serves on the EPLN Board of Directors. Anderson is the former senior pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie. If you would like to contribute a faith-based column to EPLN, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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