Address at the Luncheon
Episcopus consecratus Esboensis, dear brother Mikko,
Dear friends of Espoo Diocese
What kind of times the new diocese of Espoo and its bishop have in front of them? Can we discern the signs of the times? Jesus rebuked the pharisees saying: ”You can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3).
On one hand, God’s word prophesies hard times. Indeed, it is not difficult to believe in the hardship of life. The power of evil exceeds the powers of man. Devils who pretend to be faceless keep the mankind and individuals in a strong hold. The words of Daniel, the prophet of the Old Testament, are applicable also to our time: ”And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1).
The times of Espoo Diocese will also be hard; not that there were something wrong with the Bishop or pastors or congregations, but because so many people also in the new diocese live in tribulation. There is not a celebration that would not be impressed by the shadows of death. There is no rose garden in front of Espoo.
On the other hand, God’s word does not give the final might to the evil. Daniel is known for his critical attitude, but even his word is not gloomy. The prophet gave hope to his own time, and shelter he promises also to the new diocese. According to Daniel, this will happen at the time of the end: ”At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people.”
The word of Daniel for you, Mikko, is both commission and promise. Your duty, and the duty of all of us, is to stand for our people. We have to give ourselves, even sacrifice our own person and glory. When you, like your namesake the great prince, ”stand up” or begin in your office as the first bishop of Espoo Diocese, in the first place stand for your people.
It is comforting that the word of Daniel is not only a commission but also a promise. Not only you but the great prince himself, the archangel, is being promised to stand for the protection of your flock. Actually even more; when the Lord God of hosts sends his first angel for people, then God himself will assume the responsibility for protecting them.
So, there will be good times waiting for Espoo. And therefore also we, whose protective efforts often fail, can trust in that at the time of the end and tribulation Almighty God himself stands up. He will shelter all his own, among others also the Bishop, you, dear colleague. Pax Domini tecum et vobiscum!