Ash Wednesday, 17th February 2021

Tomorrow, 17th February, is Ash Wednesday and I have been thinking how this might be meaningful day for all of us. You may choose to follow the service either on Facebook or via our webpage

You may also to come and receive the sign of the cross and the Holy Communion (bread only) at the courtyard of Mikael Agricola Church at 18.30. Please register in advance by using this form.

If you choose to follow the service online, at the appropriate time during the service, you may make a sign of a cross to your own forehead – or agree that you do the sign to other family members. If you have ash, you may mix some with olive oil. Please do not mix with water! If you do not have ash, you may use just oil. And if you do not have oil either, simply use your finger to make the sign of the cross,

You may say the following prayer while preparing oil and ash:

God our Father,
you create us from the dust of the earth:
grant that these ashes (or oil) may be for us
a sign of our penitence
and a symbol of our mortality;
for it is by your grace alone
that we receive eternal life
in Jesus Christ our Saviour.
And then, while making the sing of the cross:

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.
or, if making the sign of a cross on your own forehead:

Turn me from sin to faithfulness and from disobedience to love.
Accomplish in me the work of your salvation.
If you are unable to follow the online service, you may begin by reading the following passage from the Gospel according to Matthew:

Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Matthew 6.1-6,16-21

With my best wishes and prayers as we prepare for the season of Lent. And again: Please do contact me if you would like to speak to a priest or if you have any questions.

Joan Eriksson 1923 – 2021

It is with great sadness that I must bring the news about Joan’s death. She died earlier this month.

Joan is remembered as a long-standing friend and pillar of support of the Anglican Church of St Nicholas, Helsinki. The church was not the only place where she was actively serving the community. Many organizations and individuals will be missing her hard work and enthusiastic support.

In the Church she is remembered as a person who was actively enganging in various activities, leading by her example. She greeted visitors at the door, handing out hymn books and service sheets, she made sure we had readers in the service, and looked after the collection and the bread and the wine. She took the responsibility of arranging church coffee for many years. No Annual Bazaar would have been possible without Joan passing on her long experience to the next generation.

Until the Annual Meeting in 2020 she was an active, always forward-looking member of the Chaplaincy Council.

She will be sorely missed by many in the Church and we aim to arrange a memorial service later this year. Joan’s funeral service was today, Tuesday 19 January 2021 in the Espoo Cathedral.

Joan is survived by her two children.

Go forth upon your journey from this world, O Christian soul;
in the name of God the Father who created you.
In the name of Jesus Christ who suffered for you.
In the name of the Holy Spirit who strengthens you.
In communion with all the blessèd saints;
with the angels and archangels and all the heavenly host.
May your portion this day be in peace and your dwelling in the city of God. Amen.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Tuomas Mäkipää, Anglican Chaplain

Sermon of Talents

Sunday 15th November, Gospel according to Matthew 25.14-30.

Dear sisters and brothers and other siblings in Christ.

This story we just heard feels so unfair to me, so unfair. How can it be that the slave who is too afraid to invest the money but hides it instead, still giving it back to his master, is the one who gets punished? How can he be thrown into the outer darkness with nothing? I am sorry but it does not feel very Christian to me. So, I decided, I have to dig deeper.

I guess most of you have heard the interpretation that this story really is about the spiritual talents we have, our gifts, what we are naturally good at. That we are not supposed to hide our talents, keep them to ourselves but to put them into good use. Of course, who could oppose that? Still, I want us to take a bit closer look at what really happened in the story and then decide what we want to draw from it.

First of all, those slaves were given talents. Each talent contained from 30 to 40 kilograms, from 66 to 88 pounds of metal. During Roman times one silver talent was equivalent to 6000 denarius. One denarius was one day’s pay for a regular worker. So, one talent was a huge amount of money, like one worker’s lifelong pay. And one slave was given five talents, one got two talents and the last one got one talent.

During those times it was a common belief that there was a certain amount of resources for the whole humanity and the question was how those resources should be divided. If someone got more, someone else lost some. That is why greed truly was seen as a sin. There was no honor in collecting too much wealth for yourself. It was comparable to theft. Honor and shame were important factors during those times. That is why the masters often let their slaves do their dirty work, take care of them getting richer and richer. The slaves had no honor to lose.

So, we have this master who is very rich and definitely does not need more. Still, he goes away and hands over his wealth to his slaves to make him even more money. Those are rewarded who have done that but the one who does not want to support his master’s greed gets punished. So, he gives back what was his master’s in the first place. Could we not see that as a courageous act? He is going against his master’s greedy nature preventing him from having too many resources, which would mean less resources to those in need. So, who is really to blame?

Yes, when we spiritualize this story, it becomes a whole different story, because our spiritual talents are not limited. When I share my talents they often just grow stronger, they intensify. Other people get a lot, too. Everyone wins. But why tell a story about money if you are trying to say something about spiritual talents? Even if that would be the right interpretation for this story, I do want to talk about money, too. I think these days we need to talk about it, since the capitalist Western society sometimes seems to have forgotten, that our resources are limited. It seems to have forgotten that we should use our talents for everyone’s benefit, not just for our own – just as those first two slaves used their talents for their master’s benefit and not their own.

Our planet is suffering because of our greed. One per cent of people own more than the other 99 per cent altogether. And still, greed is not seen as such an enormous sin in our culture in general. No, we give awards to best investors. We applaud rich people who give some money to charity while still living a life of material abundance.

I think in some ways we have traveled back to the Middle Ages when the poor people were needed for the rich to be able to do good deeds when giving the poor handouts. We are in need of reformation. We need to learn to settle with less material goods, less pollute lifestyle, sharing our resources more evenly among humankind.

You might say I am not being true to the original meaning of today’s Gospel. It is so common to talk about those talents as those strengths we each have and that we need to put in good use. But who is to say what is the right interpretation? I am saying that the spiritual understanding of those talents at its worst is a nice way to sustain the capitalist structures without them being questioned. To question the rich being allowed to get even richer is not common in our Western society nowadays. We tend to live as the resources were limitless. The Earth, and especially the younger generation using its voice, is finally telling us: “No, the resources are what they are and you have overused them. You need to stop. You need to repent and start living in a sustainable way.”

What if today’s Gospel is not so much a story of how things should be but a description of how things are in reality? Some people have too much and get even more and some people have nothing. “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” Some people are living their lives as if they were in hell already.

What if the Gospel of today is good news for those who are suffering, both people and the Earth? What if today this sermon is more demanding to people like me and more gospel to those who have not received so many earthly goods, so many resources? And what if the gospel to me and people like me lies in the fact that if we all learn to use our talents in service of the earth and the whole humankind, it is actually better for each one of us. Then heaven touches the earth, the kingdom of God is among us and we all live a life of abundance.

Revd Laura (Late) Mäntylä is a University Chaplain in the University of Helsinki serving the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland. She is also a priest for LGBTIQ people. She emphasizes to looking life from the perspective of those who are oppressed. Because, more often, it is the perspective of the most privileged that we hear.

“The Window” & the Anglican-Lutheran Society

Though being formed and being active all ready since 1984, the Anglican Lutheran Society might be new to some of you. Anglican Lutheran Society aims to promote a wider interest in and knowledge of our respective traditions and common developments, to develop opportunities for common worship, study, friendship and witness, and to encourage prayer for the unity of the Church and especially between Anglicans and Lutherans world wide.

In their publication “The Window”, October issue introduced a variety of aspects to read about. Page 18 presents The Most Rev Dr Tapio Luoma, the Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, as he was interviewed about his role as a ‘Thursdays in Black Ambassador. According to Revd Luoma: “Each generation must therefore recognize where people’s rights are being violated and involve themselves in advocacy on their behalf.”

Page 21 presents the Roman Catholic perspective to the past 60 years of ecumenical relations. It provides some excellent background to the Roman Catholic Church’s engagement in the ecumenical process since the Second Vatican Council and also touches the new multilateral body in which the Catholic Church is actively involved: the Global Christian Forum (GCF).

Page 25 presents a text from Revd Clare Amos, a former programme coordinator for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the World Council of Churches, and a former director of theological studies in the Anglican Communion Office in London. She writes about how Orthodox and Anglican appeals from 1920 remain inspiration for unity today. Revd Amos notes that: “Looking back on both documents from the perspective of 100 years one can give thanks for what has been achieved.”

Page 31 looks ahead towards The Third Ecumenical Kirchentag which is due to take place from the 12th to 16th May, 2021 in Frankfurt. It is expected to be “hybrid” event due to COVID-19. The first Ecumenical Kirchentag in Berlin in 2003 gathered about 200,000 participants. At the Second Ecumenical Kirchentag in Munich in 2010 there were about 130,000 present. Both previous events had more than 5000 international participants and the organizers hope that some international participation will be possible in 2021, depending on official regulations

Please, Click “The Window” and read in full. Enjoy!

Sharing my thoughts on the webinar

A couple of weeks ago, our Youth Sunday School teacher asked if I could attend a webinar about how young peoples’ lives have been affected by the pandemic. It sounded quite interesting, as the pandemic had affected my life, just like everyone else. In Finland, we had a lock down, like many other places, and everything switched to online platforms. But these were not as interactive as face-to-face meetings, and it felt duller. The situation has eased, but there are clear signs of the pandemic still – masks, social distancing, etc. So, I was interested to hear about other peoples’ experiences during the pandemic, about how it was similar to mine and how it was different.

There were three panelists in the meetings. One of them was called Salma. She thought that the pandemic brought out the best in people. The Muslim communities she practices her faith with organized Zoom meetings so that no one would be lonely, and a lot of people attended these meetings. But at the same time, she had had negative experiences. A lot of people started avoiding her because of reports that a lot of Somalis had the coronavirus. Ramadan and Eid, two of the most joyful experiences of the year, felt boring and dull without the company of family and friends. And then there was the fear of the pandemic. But Salma was able to get over her fear after finding a verse in the Quran: “Every soul shall taste death”. This helped her realize we are all mortal, and helped control her fear of the pandemic.

The second panelist was named Daniel and he was from Ireland. He had just become manager of a Buddhist center when the lock down had started. For him, the coronavirus was an eye-opener, with the pandemic showing him that our lives are uncertain and are not controlled by us, but by God. The coronavirus also highlighted the importance of friendship with people of the same age and religion. Most of his friends are atheists, meaning that their priorities and struggles are very different. Being friends with someone who shares your values and principles gives you someone you can talk to. Having someone of your same age and faith also helps you to be bolder when showing that young people do practice faith. Daniel felt this was one of the responsibilities of young people during the pandemic.

The last panelist, Roni, was from Finland. In his opinion, one of the drawbacks of the pandemic was the inability to physically go to an event, for example a Sunday service. He normally volunteers for a lot of organizations, but suddenly those were also gone. Not attending events in person was something that affected his physical life and his spiritual life. When he went to confirmation camp, he had been taught that Christian faith was a chair that stood on four legs – reading the Bible, Holy Communion, prayer, and connection with other people. Suddenly one of the legs of the chair was gone. There were online services and online meetings, but to Roni they just didn’t feel the same. He found it hard to adapt to new situations and surroundings. Two things helped him adjust to the new normal: prayer and the bible verse Acts 17: 27-28: “God is not far from any one of us. In him, we live, move and we are.” The bible verse showed that God is not only present in places of worship, but also near every one of us.

I came to realize through the webinar that faith helped everyone to come to terms with the pandemic. It helped me realize that there are a lot of values in different faiths which offer consolation in difficult times. Faith also helped people to come together even when distanced. Online Sunday services and meetings with the respective faith communities helped people to come together. In some cases, these have been the only interaction people received in the whole week. People who believe in God will have better mental health during the pandemic because they have something to believe in and are able to see the broader picture and not just the immediate future. Practicing faith is a different and a better way to live out your life. The webinar was a good and new experience for me. I am grateful to the Anglican church for allowing me to participate.

Joel Sam Johnson

Please click on this link to view the edited Webinar on YouTube

An inclusive community of word and sacrament

The Chaplaincy Council had a very positive and constructive meeting on Saturday, 19th September 2020. We had a discussion on what is our mission and outreach and came to conclusion that we must first define who we are ourselves.

We all come from many different backgrounds and with our own identities. We do not always agree but wish to be truthful to our calling to be an ‘inclusive community of word and sacrament’. 

We also know that we could do better; to learn more about what it means to be a welcoming community. in order to help us explore what it means to extend the spirit of welcome to all the Council passed the following resolution:

“This Council adopts the Inclusive Church Vision as our view of the Church:

We believe in inclusive Church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on the grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”

So this is a beginning of a journey when we hope and pray to learn how ‘wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ’, to be faithful to the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it and, to continue our commitment to the ecumenical collaboration with our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in the Porvoo Communion Churches.

In Christ

Tuomas Mäkipää, Anglican Chaplain