I may have a nice talk with people, whom I don`t know. It`s wonderful to share a delicious dinner with the colleagues. Spending a weekend in a mountain cabin with the friends would be fun. As social beings we love company and fellowship.

But with whom would you be ready to go out of your comfort zone, to places you perhaps don`t like, to meet people who perhaps don`t like you, to face unexpected and even dangerous situations?

The more you trust and love somebody, the more willing you are to follow him/ her.

Once Jesus said to Peter and John and some other guys, follow me, and they followed. Where ever Jesus went, they went, too. Well, they had seen the miracles Jesus did. They had heard Him talking about the Kingdom of God. And they believed He was the Messiah. He became their Rabbi, the Teacher, the Coach, if you like. Sounds very simple.

But they were ordinary people, they had their feelings, jobs, families, friends. Maybe it wasn`t that simple after all. Think about yourself: would you be ready? Going to church, when we like, does not yet mean we are followers of Jesus.

Maybe there was one important thing that assured the first desciples to join the Lord: He was full of God, His Father`s presence, there was a passionate love in His eyes and words and deeds. The more they got to know Him, the more this passionate love grew in their hearts.

They learned to love Jesus, their Rabbi so much that they were even ready to follow Him into wastelands and deserts. They hurried after Him in a cloud of dust and sand. All this just because there was this passion, this deep love that made them one body.

Thinking about this picture I start understanding the old Jewish wisdom: ” May you be covered by the dust of your Rabbi”.

May the coming new year take us deeper into this kind of closeness with the Lord and His followers, to the fellowship of passionate love. This love will attract people to come to the Lord and receive the passion which will change the world.

C like Christmas?

No! C like cakes, candies, chocolate and calories.

At Christmas you have to eat well. From the Christmas Eve and Day, the Second C.Day ( or the Boxing Day, or the Day of St. Stephanos) all the way to the New Year people, at least in Finland eat almost all the time.

I just don`t want to go to the details. Maybe you can imagine, what it means to have many heavy meals and constant coffee breaks every day in a week. At least the shopkeepers are happy, the parents are exhausted and the children suffer from sugar overdoses.

Who invented this kind of X´mas headache? I wrote X`mas instead of Christmas, because this season sickness has nothing to do with the original Christmas in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.

Is Christmas season a reason to eat and drink too much and hurry here and there? Is there any way to turn back to the silent and holy night, where we can relax in the presence of the Holy Baby, feel the excitement of the Shepherds, when they hear the angels sing glory to God?

It is up to us to decide: c for calories, or C for Christ.

I am not against the good meals and I don`t want to spoil your Christmas traditions. All I want to say is that Jesus Christ is always more than heavy meals or traditions. He is the source of the real peace and joy. He is not a religion with empty relics. He is the Person, the Saviour, with whom we may have a deep and loving and eternal relationship.

I pray that this Christmas will take us all to see the beauty of God in the face of the Baby in Bethlehem. Near Him we can be empowered to meet the challenges of the next year.

Joseph, the dreamer

Joseph, a man and a dreamer, quite a combination, especially today. There was one Joseph in the Old Testament and one in the New, both saw dreams, both followed their dreams.

To see dreams is quite normal, even for men. To follow the dreams sounds a bit weird, especially with the men. Ladies, please don`t be offended, we men are different in some areas ( I may be wrong, though). If you say that he is a dreamer, it sounds some what not so manly. But she being a dreamer is ok. Why? You tell me!

My point is to say that those two Josephs, dreamers were men with great courage and strength. They were men, who saved their families and finally were used by God to save nations. The first Joseph became the leader in Egypt to save both the Egyptians and the Israelis from starvation. The second Joseph were courageous enough to marry virgin Mary, who was pregnant, to take her down to Bethlehem,then the whole family further down to Egypt and back to Galilee again. All this following the dreams sent by God.

Think about this for a moment:
– an Israeli boy becoming a great leader in a mighty Egypt to save his nation
– a young Jewish man marrying a pregnant village girl, believing the message of an Angel about Her divine pregnancy, taking her and then also the boy on all those dangerous roads here and there through mountains and take care of the Saviour of the World

– would we do the same?
– wouldn`t it need some courage…and a lot of faith in God, who speaks us in many ways, even through dreams!

Be a praying dreamer to dream with God. Enjoy His presence and let His love fill your heart with hope, peace and joy. Some day He will send you to tell messages about Christmas and Easter: Jesus was born, Jesus carried our sins and sicknesses on the cross, Jesus rose from the death and He is coming back.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year 2013 with great dreams about God`s good plans for you!

Hakee kirkosta tunnelmaa

Mikä ettei! Tässä mielessä kirkolla onkin loistavat puitteet ja markkinat. Ihminen tarvitsee unelmia, tunnelmia ja muistelmia. On, mitä kertoa ja myös mielessään kerrata. Monelle aamuyöstä joulukirkkoon meno läpi lumen ja pakkasten hevosreessä olisi kova sana nykyään. Ennen se oli osa joulua ja niitä muistoja joku vielä lämmöllä muistelee.

Pahinta, mitä saarnaaja voi sanoa joulusaarnassaan on seuraava: kyllä te kerran vuodessa, jouluna kirkkoon tulette, mutta ei teitä täällä muulloin näy näin sankoin joukoin.

Ei pidä moittia kansaa sen kerran, kun he tulevat kirkkoon. Ja muutenkaan ei moitteella ihmisiä saa Sanan kuuloon.

On siis lupa hakea kirkosta tunnelmaa. On lupa etsiä paikka hiljentymiselle.

Mutta kirkon on myös lupa tiedostaa, kuinka suuret mahdollisuudet sillä on tavoittaa ihmiset sillä evankeliumilla, jossa Jeesus edelleen pelastaa, parantaa, vapauttaa ja tulee arjen Herraksi. Evankeliumi ei ole este unelmille, tunnelmalle eikä edes muistelmille. Päinvastoin: Herramme antaa meille unelmia Jumalan pyhyyden ja rakkauden tulemiselle tähän kipujen maailmaan. Pyhän Hengen koskettaessa sydän syttyy palamaan, tunnelma herkistyy. Todistuksen sana siitä, mitä Jumala on tehnyt on muistelemista.

Seimen ääressä ollaan pyhän rakkauden ääressä: Sana tulee lihaksi ja asuu meidän keskellämme ja tekee meille hyvää. Onnellinen se, joka ottaa Sanan vastaan ja tutkistelee sitä sydämessään Marian tavoin.