Today was our last day in the US. Tomorrow, Deb and I with six kids in tow, begin our return journey to Ukraine. I took the girls with me to run some last minute errands while my amazing wife continued to pack and do mounds of laundry.

Watching Claire pick out her very own running shoes, well, that pretty much made my day. The youngest in a family of eight rarely gets to pick much of anything. Her seven year old eyes danced through the selections, locking quickly on the very most sparkly silver sneakers. My heart smiled at the way they immediately inspired her to dance and point her toes out like a ballerina.

We stopped at Wendy’s, realizing the girls had never tried a frosty. This time both of their eyes expanding to behold the cup of frozen glory.

Photo provided for all Slavic friends – soft serve is quite rare unless you are in the big cities in Ukraine.

In the background, they were playing 80s music. One right after the other I was in my early childhood glory, reminiscing as my own kids were making their own. As my mind danced between the goodness of God in our journey and the looming reality check of returning to Ukraine in the midst of turmoil and instability, on came Mr. Mister.

I don’t know much about the band Mr. Mister, but I had their cassette tape as a budding teen. There was only one song that I really liked, and would play over, and over. Remember how long it took to rewind tapes? We had so much time back then! Anyway, the song title was simply, “Kýrie.” Now for those of you that listened to music back then, the infectious tune is now attempting to play in your mind.

80’s dudes – let’s go back to that hair together!

For those unfortunate souls that don’t know what I’m talking about, take a few minutes and get up to speed – click here to play.

I had no idea what Kyrie meant, and didn’t care. When the chorus came around, I may as well have been singing about cucumbers, I dug it. Isn’t it amazing how our minds can recall lyrics, even if we haven’t heard them for decades? Well, sitting in Wendy’s with my girls, I’m singing along like I’m Mr. Lead singer.

When I was young, I thought of growing old,
Of what my life would mean to me.
Would I have followed down my chosen road,
Or only wished what I could be?

Kyrie Eleison down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Eleison through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Eleison where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie Eleison on a highway in the night

Mr. Mister 1985

Kyrie is the transliteration of the Greek word for Lord. Throughout Scripture, Jesus of Nazareth was considered the one, true King or κύριος. This declaration was not simply made, it meant crossing hairs with Rome, who enforced the dominion of Caesar as κύριος with fierce consequence.

Eleison, or ἐλέησον in Greek is the word for mercy. Together, we have “Lord, have mercy” essentially. For anyone who’s been raised in Eastern Orthodox or Western liturgical faith expressions, you didn’t need this language lesson. You always knew what Mr. Mister was singing! For the rest of us, well, cucumbers.

Lord, have mercy, or Kyrie Eleison is THE most commonly voiced prayer of the Church throughout her history. You’ll find it saturated throughout various liturgical prayers and expressions. It’s at once a declaration and confession that indeed, Christ, we believe (as it passes our lips)is King over God’s universe. It’s simultaneously a heart cry plea of trust, a beckoning and humble request for mercy from the one who is need.

Two words that summarize what paragraphs simply can’t. Lord, have mercy. More of a sigh at times than even a particular request. Sometimes we don’t even know the outcome we want, or need. Lord have mercy when things don’t make sense to our tired souls. Mercy, when there seems to be no way out of our mess. Mercy as recognition that on our own, we are but fading grass, and fleeting breath. It’s a prayer of praise, and trust, of declaration and surrender.

Tonight I looked back and Mr. Mister’s lyrics. It made me smile. Mercy for the road we are each to travel, for the times when the light of clarity and peace have vanished. Lord have mercy for the places we are going, and will go. Why aren’t we singing this song in our churches? 🙂

We join the echoing prayers of the saints throughout history, and Mr. Mister, Lord have mercy on Ukraine, and on this entire situation with Russia. Have mercy on our brothers and sisters in Russia, and in Belarus, that have only shades of the kind of expression and freedom we enjoy in the West. Remember the true enemy of our souls pulling the strings. Lord have mercy on the innocent victims of aggression, the widows, the orphans, the poor who find themselves stuck in a continuous cycle of instability.

Kyrie Eleison on you as well, in your time of trial.

It was a perfect conclusion to our time here in the US. Some sparkly shoes on my sweet Claire, and a reminder that Jesus reigns, in Ukraine and Wendy’s.

Final photo of the beauty that is Pennsylvania and our new US home base when we travel back. Come visit us friends if you are in the area, and if you need a place to stay, contact Tucker who is staying back and working here in PA.
Our sweet three daughters.
We so appreciated the prayer last night on Zoom with our friends and partners. Thank you too for thinking of Ukraine, our family and friends who serve in this time!