Greeting by Bishop Teemu Laajasalo on the occasion of the blessing of the lower house of Felm Jerusalem’s centre on Wednesday 22 January 2020
Esteemed Archbishop, Dear Friends,
Shalom is one of the best-known Hebrew terms. It is a rich expression that is usually translated into Finnish by the word ‘rauha’ – and in English, ‘peace’. Biblical peace is not merely the absence of war. It is an ideal of God, a harmonious connection between human beings and the whole of creation under the rule of justice.
We live in a world in which biblical peace has yet to be realised. An illustration of this is that only today, Wednesday, many world leaders will gather in this very city to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, which will be marked worldwide on Monday.
The mission of Felm is to tell of the Christ who frees the world from sin, burdens and death. But it is also Felm’s mission to imitate Christ – and thus to be true to reconciliation, the building of the peace that transcends borders, justice, and the declaration of the absolute dignity of the human being. That work has been undertaken on this site for decades in a uniquely beautiful setting. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says:
“I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.”
It is important to remember that the spreading of the message of Jesus never depends on a single sowing of the word, but that those who gather the harvest always garner what has been sown before them. Behind the success of our projects lie the efforts of previous generations. So it is with this place.
Jesus does not speak these words in the Bible negatively. He presents them positively. In the words of Jesus, this phrase is a promise. In the words of Jesus, this phrase is a gift. It is a gift and a promise intended to lighten our burden as church workers. But above all, it is a gift and a promise that Christ himself has done the work for us. And it is good to remember this in Jerusalem, where it may often seem the task is impossible, and progress towards reconciliation is slow.
I wish you all – and especially the people of this centre – God’s blessing, protection and peace.