Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Churches – Pastor Tia Pelz, March 23, 2022

Devotion for March 23, 2022 from Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King:

It’s a small world in God’s hands 

We calculate time in different ways. By years Anno Domini, after Jesus’ birth. By years of the pandemic. By our own age. For me, a new calculation has become true. Today, Wednesday, March 23 marks the end of the first month of the renewed Russian invasion in Ukraine. The end of the idea that Europe will live in peace in the foreseeable future. The end of  

The war started on February 24, a Thursday. Nothing has been the same ever since for me. While everything still seems to be the same. I still cannot fathom the fact that Ukraine is being bombed to ashes. That millions of kids are in acute danger while other millions have been able to flee. An entire people is being traumatized in the middle of Europe. While we helplessly watch and donate and pray and cry, cry, cry. 

Ironically, the kids and I happened to go to L.A. and Disneyland for a week right after the war began. It was the strangest feeling ever. Disneyland is always a world of its own. That’s the whole point. To enter the magic doors, to forget what’s outside, to dream and enjoy oneself to the fullest. And, because we had already booked everything, we went. And, we did have fun. We felt the magic, the wonder, the fun, the joy, the craziness how you know that everything is fake, yet it feels so real. Because sometimes the real feels even more unimaginable than the dreams. Especially, when the streets I know and walked are being bombed and friends of friends are running for their lives.  

Ukraine is not far from my home in Germany. 12 hours by car. Like from Fremont to Salt Lake City. Imagine there was war in Utah. That’s how close this is for my family, my friends and I. Even closer for my Polish sister-in-law. Or for my Romanian friends I used to study and live with.  

The first 2 weeks of the war in Ukraine I spent in horror, while smiling for pictures with Mickey and friends. Every free second, I scrolled the news, trying to learn more to make sense of this war. Crying at pictures and stories of people whose lives had been like mine just days ago. During the rides though, I managed to forget and just laugh and scream with the others. Except for one. The famous “It’s a small world” ride, where you mellowly cruise through pretty placative landscapes of this world with dolls in traditional costumes dancing. On a normal day I would have just ranted at the stereotypes while secretly enjoying my ability to figure out almost of the nationalities. I just didn’t see Germany. (I looked it up on YouTube, it’s there…) I guess, stereotypes only work in others.  

What makes the ride most remarkable is the constant repetition of its theme song. It’s almost maddening in its simple truth:  

It’s a world of laughter
A world of tears
It’s a world of hopes
And a world of fears
There’s so much that we share
That it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all (x5) 

There is just one moon
And one golden sun
And a smile means
Friendship to ev’ryone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It’s a small world after all (x5) 

The words ring so true these days. So true that I cried through the entire ride. It’s one of the longer ones. It’s also dark so no one really saw me. Our small world, where we are all interconnected. Where people in Ukraine have to fight while trying to get their families into safety. Where moms and kids and grandparents are sitting in the homes of strangers right now, trying to hear from their family and friends back in Ukraine. Where people in Africa starve to death because the wheat from Ukraine won’t arrive anymore. Where cities get turned into construction sites of mere destruction. Where great solidarity meets horrified people and together, we feel hopeless and helpless, watching what might be next. 

In that feeling of absolute hopelessness I remembered another song. Another one of those songs that get stuck in your head for the rest of the day (You are welcome!). “He’s got the whole world in his hands”. An all-time Sunday school classic.  

To me, those two songs are my prayers these days: The reality of our small world made by God, held by God. The hope that God won’t let go of this world, won’t let go of the people of Ukraine, won’t let go of all the weary, the tired, the traumatized, the hungry. That our world isn’t just small enough to fight each other but also small enough to come together. That our world joins in each other’s laughter and tears, hopes and fears. And that all of this takes place in God’s hand. Even if sometimes it’s hard to believe. In hope in Christ, pastor Tia! 

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