Srmon in the Peace mass in Loviisa churn 6.8.2017 at 10.00
02.08.2017 Puheita, esitelmiä, alustuksia


Sermon in the Peace mass in Loviisa church, Sunday Aug. 8, 2017, at 10.00

Lord, give me your world-creating Word!

Matt. 7:13-14

Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (NIV)

THE NARROW GATE

This word of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount has given an incredible amount of spiritual blessing, encouragement and joy during two millennia. It is a most fitting text for our Peace mass today. Christ has overcome death, and life reigns supreme.

It is well known that it harder to find good than evil.

Even ancient philosophers like Hesiod and Philo confessed that the “Gate of death” seems to be closer than the “Gate of righteousness”. Jesus says here that the narrow gate leads to the road of life; He himself is the Gate of life.

It is only in the Sermon on the Mount that the narrow gate is mentioned. Jesus preached his famous sermon to the people of Israel, to a Jewish audience. He wanted the listeners to understand what the narrow gate is, faith in Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” – salvation is through me only, he says.

So we should not understand the narrow gate as a requirement but as an offer. We are saved only by grace, through Christ (sola gratia, propter Christus). In baptism Christ becomes ours and we become his. We live in Him, and He lives in us. Our intelligence cannot grasp this, but this mystery is part of our faith in Christ. We live in Him.

A SERMON IS MEDICINE, NOT TALK ABOUT THE MEDICINE

A sermon is not a lecture on medicine, it is the medicine itself. It is not meant to be analysis, theoretical discussion, or a diagnosis; its function is to strengthen faith in Jesus. It is He who even right now gives you healing and encouragement; comforts, cherishes and inspires you, and strengthens your joy of salvation. Jesus brings reconciliation and peace to the whole world.

I always get inspired and excited to preach, because I feel that the fire of God burns in us, in you and me. We get renewed, refreshed and surprised by Him.

The preached Word, as well as the visible Word in the communion, gives us a touch from God. And when God touches us, we get renewed.

*Do you feel your heart burning? *Your spirit rejoices. *You are not like before. *You are renewed. *You are a miracle of God.

The Peace mass is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in you. (?? Tätä lausetta en ymmärtänyt.) This means that God reveals himself in you. He lives in you. And when He speaks, you cannot resist, because you belong to him. This too is a miracle. You are conquered and overwhelmed by Him and filled by Him.

The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, fills you with his goodness and love. This is your “magic moment”. God creates a new world: you are renewed and the world is renewed. Peace becomes a reality between individuals and between nations. Praise to you, God, that you are who you are!

THE UNIVERSAL TASK OF A CHRISTIAN

The worldwide church of Christ today rejoices over the 30 years of the Peace Forum. Faith in Jesus gives us a common task that we have sought to put in practice in creative and unique ways here in Loviisa.

The church of Jesus Christ is universal. The Bible guides us to build a better world through compassion, morals and hope. Faith in Jesus helps us to defend others. Faith also protects us from fanaticism and fundamentalism. Faith in Jesus means genuine and humane life that appreciates others. And faith in Jesus joins us to seek peace and hope together with other nations, religions, languages and cultures. (Huom! Käännöksessäni painotus muuttui vähän. Jos kuitenkin haluat suoran käännöksen, se on tässä: And faith in Jesus joins nations, religions, languages and cultures to seek peace and hope together.)

God is love.

So, no wonder that religions had a central role when the universal Declaration of human rights was drafted.

Faith in Jesus was instrumental in the creation of European culture and way of life. Today this faith spreads fastest in Africa, Asia and South America. Peace research reveals how important it would be to enter into genuine discussions and inter-faith dialogue with Islam (of the Arabic world – tämän jättäisin pois, koska hyvin suuri osa muslimeista ei ole arabeja), Indian Hinduism, Chinese Confucianism and Japanese Shintoism. Faith in Jesus inspires us to dialogue in order to build peace in the whole world.

FIVE STORIES FROM THE LOVIISA CHURCH

The neo-gothic style church stands right in the middle of the road leading, via Stockholm and Helsinki, all the way from Lisboa in Portugal to St. Petersburg in Russia. The church is known as the first one of so-called Road churches in Finland, and as a place where the prayer for peace continues.

Have you noticed that this church is full of doves? When a textile artist received a commission to design new church textiles, she wandered along the streets and sat here in the church – and suddenly realized that doves are an integral part of this place. Dove is also the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Every one of the church textiles has a dove embroidered in it.

When Kalevi Sorsa, a former Finnish Prime Minister, presented the first Loviisa Peace Award to Romanian Hungarian bishop Laszlo Tökes in 1990, at the end of the Cold War, he had a stole with doves placed on his shoulders.

And when the patron of the Peace Forum, the first female President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, received the Peace Award, there were live doves in this church. The Peace Awards presented in this church remind us that working for peace is the calling of all those who believe in Jesus. No wonder that President Halonen gifted the church with a manger scene that she had earlier received from Yasser Arafat during Middle East peace negotiations. The Lutheran bishop of Jordan and the Holy Land, Munib Younan, was able to witness the active prayer for peace in Middle East during his visit here.

This church is also a meeting place for Finno-Ugric people groups. Estonians from Haapsalu, Hungarians from Csömör, as well as Ingrians from Kolppana and many other minority groups from various parts of Russia have found a secure base for their life here. And how many choirs and orchestras from all over the world, including the Americas, Africa and Japan, have brought their prayers to the altar of this church in their concerts and masses!

Faith in Jesus joins nations and cultures in love and new creativity. The hope for a better world that Jesus brought lives as long as prayer for peace continues. A narrow gate refers to faith in Jesus, who promised, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Veli-Matti Hynninen