Lection Connection

February 28, 2021: From Generation to Generation

From Paul Turley


Alexei Navalny is in jail.


He was sentenced last week by a Moscow court to serve a three-year sentence for allegedly breaching the terms of what had formally been a suspended sentence.


The sentence came as no surprise to Navalny or his supporters. A prominent opposition leader in Russia, leader of the Russia of the Future party, lawyer and anti-corruption activist, Navalny had been in detention since returning to the country a little more than a month ago. Navalny had been in Germany where he was treated for a near-fatal nerve agent attack on him in August of 2020. Navalny blames Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attack and, in court, called Putin a “poisoner.” He also rejects his latest arrest and sentencing as “fabricated.”


Addressing the court before the sentencing, Mr. Navalny said the case was being used to frighten the opposition: “This is how it works: they send one to jail to intimidate millions.” 


Thousands of Russian citizens have taken to the streets in protest against this latest crackdown by the Russian government with upwards of 4,000 people being arrested at protests last week.


Last week, our scripture reading was a promise encompassing the whole world. Today’s reading is a promise encompassing, in the first instance, the lives of two people. The promise of a new life and a new world rests in Abram and Sarai. In Russia, for this moment, the promise of a new life and new world seems to be contained in the life and fortunes of Alexei Navalny and his courageous stand.


While there are questions around Navalny’s nationalism and some of his party’s statements that seem to border on racism, and while his view on the Crimea and its status as part of Ukraine are at best ambivalent, there is no doubt that Navalny is a lightning rod for government attacks and a rallying point for disgruntled Russians.


As Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion said in an opinion piece, “Navalny knew what awaited him in Russia before he left Berlin, and yet he chose to return. He knows he can be killed at any time, but felt he had no choice but to make a stand with the only weapons he has left, his body and his spirit. After his sentence was read, he drew a heart to his wife, Yulia, on the glass of his cage and shouted, ‘Don’t worry. Everything will be OK.’”


While, as of this writing, everything for Navalny seems far from okay, the promise of a new Russia, which he currently embodies, is what many hope will endure and come to fruition.


Explore… Genesis 17:1–7, 15–16

  • In what ways can we, in reading the story of Sarah and Abraham, see them as exemplars or signs of the wider promise of God to a whole people?
  • What do you think it means that Sarai and Abram are given new names derived from their original names?
  • How do you understand the promise to Abraham and Sarah impacting in your life today?



God, promises and dashed promises litter our personal and collective histories. Help us to see clearly your promise of personal and community justice and peace and to live in hope and expectation for your kingdom present and still arriving. Amen.


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