The season of Advent and Christmas is quite extraordinary. It makes us wonder about God and whether we believe that He wants to enter our hearts. This year the music band ”Casting Crowns” put this in sound words and an intriguing tune. Listen in to ”Make Room” and read up the lyrics below. (BF)
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I’ve always been moved by the shepherds who witnessed Jesus’s birth. Perhaps you have heard the story from the Bible: As the shepherds kept watch over their sheep in the fields, an angel appeared and told the good news to them. The shepherds were among the first people in this world to hear about Christ’s birth. Common people, simple minds. At first the shepherds were frightened, but then they rushed to Bethlehem to see with their own eyes what had happened, or what was about to happen. What made them leave their flock and look for Jesus? Was it curiosity? Or was it a deep urge to seek the truth? Did they acknowledge who Jesus really was – the long-awaited Messiah, the Saviour, forgiver of sins and messenger of joy and peace, as the Bible tells us? I do not know, and perhaps the shepherds didn’t know it either in the beginning, for they came to see the full picture only later in their lives, as the grown-up Christ laid down his life for them.
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Welcome to join the traditional Christmas Carols on Sunday, 10 December at 16.00 at St. Luke’s Chapel (Yliopistokatu 7, close to the main campus of The University of Oulu). Come to sing the most beautiful songs for Advent and Christmas. Church musician Taina Voutilainen and Quintet will accompany, and there will be a performance by Hany Fernando from Indonesia. Glögi and gingerbread will be served afterwards. (BF)
You are welcome to join this year’s Thanksgiving Potluck on Friday, 24 November at 17.30, Salvation Army, Isokatu 4, 5th floor, Oulu. A potluck dinner is a common meal prepared by people bringing dishes to enjoy together. So, please bring a dish – hot or cold, cooked or baked – from your home country and share it with others :-) The dishes can be stored from 17.30 onwards in the kitchen. We’ll start with a devotion at 18.00 by Patrick Nesbitt, and then continue having a good time together throughout the evening until approx. 20.00. (BF).
Have you heard of Jesus’ story of two men and women (Matthew 24:40-41)? They were doing their daily work and lived ordinary lives. At Jesus’ second coming, only one is taken but the other one is left. We cannot spot any difference between these two men and women, there is no outward distinction in their appearance. But how were the ones taken by Jesus prepared for his appearance, in which way they were ready for Christ’s return as opposed to the other man and woman? Ari Savuoja explores this in his sermon on Sunday, 19 November 2017. Feel free to read it up here for your own edification – and readiness. (BF)
This is a summary of Hany Fernando’s sermon on the “Father’s Day”, Sunday, 12 November 2017, on Jonah 2:1-9.
Our spiritual life journey is illustrated in many books of the Bible, and so also Jonah bears reference to us as children of God:
God loves us but we turned our back to Him, for we chose our own way, we didn’t want to obey God. However, God always shows His love to us as a father. As the Lord saved Jonah from drowning and death, He also redeems our lives.
Father’s day is not only the day to remember our earthly father, but also the day to remember our Heavenly Father, whose love is unchanging.
Father’s day is not only the day when we honour our earthly father, but also the day to honour our Heavenly Father, who blesses us abundantly.
Father’s day is not only the day when we give a present to our earthly father, but also the day to remind us about giving our life to our Heavenly Father for the glory of His name.
Father’s day is not only the day to acknowledge our earthly father, but also the day to acknowledge our Heavenly Father, who stretches His hands to help us.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him,
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
Happy Father’s day!
In Psalm 28:7 it reads, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.” We may examine our hearts whether we trust in God alone, and recall times and events in our lives when He has shielded us from all kinds of evil – from inside or outside ourselves. In 2017 our congregation gathered over a devotion, and pinned little notes of how God has protected and is protecting us. It was a great source of encouragement to see the Shield of God emerge as we shared our notes. Perhaps this may encourage you as well regardless in which situation in life you may be at this very moment. (BF)
Sometimes, in sports contests, it is said that one of the teams or one of the competitors has a home ground advantage. In Luke 4:23-30 Jesus states that prophets do not have such an advantage. A prophet may even have a reversed home ground advantage: prophets are hardly accepted on their home ground. The same happened to Jesus at various times, when He – the Messiah – addressed His own people, the Jews. Of course, there were many Jewish people at Jesus’ time who opened their hearts and believed Him to be the Messiah. But in this Bible passage, Jesus is addressing a crowd of Jews that demands miracles for proof, and as Jesus is not answering in the way they expect, they even want to cast Him down a cliff and totally clear the ground of Christ. Eventually Jesus simply and miraculously walks away… He leaves them standing like stubs, alone in their hardness and godlessness. What about us? How do we respond to Jesus? Do we let Him gain ground in our hearts? Read up more from Ari Savuoja’s sermon on Sunday, 20 August 2017. (BF)
Have you ever heard about the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well (John 4:1-42)? She came to the well in the heat of the day to draw water. She went there at that time to avoid other people, for in her town she was known to having had illicit sexual relationships with many men. At the well Jesus encountered her in a way that she would never ever forget. Her life of sin was laid open before Jesus just as crystal-clear water that she had come for. But Jesus did not condemn her. He meant well to her. He offered living water to the woman for her to be cleansed from all sin. Eventually, she leaves her water jar at the well, goes downtown and shares the good news of her encounter with the Messiah. Soon after people came out of the town and made their way towards Jesus. In fact, in the following days many people came to believe in Jesus, because of the woman’s testimony and Jesus’ words. On Sunday, 22 January 2017, Ari Savuoja dealt with the topic of giving testimony of Christ, of how a believer and ordinary person – just like the Samaritan woman – can share his or her faith and personal encounter with Christ with other people (BF).
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
(John Henry Hopkins, 1875)
English Services: Last time in 2016 on Sunday, 18 December, 16.00 pm, St. Luke’s Chapel. The English worship services will commence again on Sunday, 8 January 2017 at 16.00 pm St. Luke’s Chapel, Yliopistokatu 7, Oulu. In the meantime, join services in Finnish and English with other congregations and denominations putting Christ at the centre of the holiday season and life in general – be curious and explore.
Bible Study: Last time on Wednesday, 14 December 2016 at 19.00 at the Peedo home. Will be on break and shall commence again on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 in new facilities downtown Oulu at the Salvation Army – more information shortly.
New Year Celebration: Saturday, 31 December 2016, 18.00, Leena Maria & Alpo Lehtonen, Koskitie 7 B 4, Tuira, Oulu. Don’t stay alone but join in to let go the old year and celebrate the new one together with others. A potluck will be arranged, so please share warm or cold food and drinks with others. If you are planning to come and/or wish to prepare a small programme, contact Leena Maria. Also, please bring a small gift (at most 2 EUR) to suprise and to be surprised. (BF)