Strong winds

November is dark and can be quite windy. You might also personally go through a heavy storm right now. Sometimes the storm is a sickness or a relationship in crisis. Storms can, however, give us insights and new thoughts. May that be your experience this time.

I don’t know much about ships and boats. But storms affect all of us. In the Bible there are many stories about storms. The storm Jonah experienced is what I think about right now. His name means “dove”. That fits quite well with the fact that Jonah tried to flee and escape, just like a dove.

Jonah was called by God to travel to a city in today’s Iraq – the city was called Nineve – and preach to the people of the city. The problem was that Jonah did not at all want to go or do what God had in mind. Instead he jumps on a ship that goes in the very opposite direction. He leaves Israel and goes toward Tarsis, a city in the north-west part of the Mediterranean. He flees from God and God’s plan. He is not the first one who did that – I am thinking about unwilling Moses in the Bible that after a long discussion with God says ”Please send your message with somebody else ”. Inside of Moses there is a ”I don’t want” – even if he then finally goes. And I think about us and our unwillingness sometimes.

But God does not let go of Jonah. He sends a heavy storm and the ship is about to sink. The people are terrified, they throw things into the sea and try to save the situation. And Jonah? He sleeps, better than ever before! He flees God and he flees his calling.

Sometimes a storm is like an alarm clock. For Jonah it was. Sometimes God shakes our lives dramatically in order to wake us up. This is really a real gift. Sometimes we need storms, they help us redefine the direction and make new, better plans.

So, instead of cursing the storm it would be better to ask: Why am I in this? Does God want me something? Do I need a new direction in life? Am I on the wrong road? These are no simple questions but it is possible to get an answer. The God that let the storm shake our lives has also the ability to speak through it.

After a long, dramatic experience in the sea, Jonah is ready to say yes to God’s calling. That experience places him right in the middle of God’s will. My prayer for you today is that the storm you might be experiencing would place you perfectly in God’s will. That is the best that ever could happen.

Camilla Klockars

Risigt att vara ensam

För nåt år sen blev ett australiensiskt får med namnet Baarack känt på sociala media. Fåret hade nämligen varit borta hemifrån och på egna vägar ute i naturen i ungefär 5 år och det såg, minst sagt, lite risigt ut när det sen blev funnet. Dethär är alltså en sann historia. Baarack var ensam när man hittade honom och hans ull hade vuxit så våldsamt att det var svårt att se ögonen på honom. Ullen hängde över hela ansiktet, dessutom var det fullt av insekter och småskräp ur naturen på kroppen. Det tog omkring en timme att raka Baarack, en procedur som i normala fall inte tar många minuter. När man sen vägde all den ull som man hade rakat bort handlade det om ungefär 35 kilo.

Jag har tänkt på Baarack nu och då ända sedan jag läste om honom och såg ett litet filmklipp med honom. Jag har tänkt på det faktum att mycket hinner hända om man som får är borta från herden en längre tid. Det blir en hel del insekter i ullen och i praktiken en väldigt tung kroppshydda att bära. För att inte tala om alla potentiella infektioner, alla faror och allt annat elände som man kan råka ut för i ensamheten långt borta från ens skötare. Ett får är inte ämnat att ta hand om sej själv. Ett får behöver en herde, ett hem och skötsel för att må bra, varje dag.

Bilden av får och en herde är en bild som Bibeln förhållandevis ofta använder om Gud och oss i både Gamla och Nya Testamentet. Följande formulering återfinns tex i Matteusevangeliet: ”När han, Jesus, såg folkskarorna, förbarmade han sig över dem, för de var härjade och hjälplösa, som får utan herde”. Det står också: ”Om någon av er har hundra får och förlorar ett av dem, lämnar han då inte de 99 i öknen och går ut efter det förlorade tills han finner det?”

Borttappad och hjälplös, som ett får utan herde. Förlorad och ensam, i behov av att bli hittad. Nu kan det ju hända att du och jag för tillfället inte alls känner oss hjälplösa eller förlorade eller ensamma. Det lär också vara faktum gällande de får som är på väg att dra ut på egen hand. Det är lätt att tro att man klarar sig för egen maskin när man är mätt och belåten, solen skiner och vidderna utanför fårahuset lockar. Då är det kanske inte ovanligt att man låter sig dras iväg åt ett nytt, intressant håll. Men – plötsligt är man borttappad eller hotad av något som helt oväntat dök upp. Plötsligt är man ensam och långt borta hemifrån.

Men också ett borttappat, vilsegånget får kan bli hittat. Jesus är den som, enligt bibelordet, lämnar de 99 fåren i fårahuset och sätter all sin energi på att hitta det får som är bortsprunget eller borttappat. Att komma till Gud är att få komma hem. Jag vet ingen vackrare bild än så. Det är att få bli funnen och få bli buren. Det är att få säja: Jag behöver dej Gud i mitt liv – verkligen. Jag vill inte leva ensam, jag vill inte dra iväg på egna vägar, jag vill inte tappa bort mig i svårmanövrerad natur. Förlåt mej, ta mej tillbaka hem.

Amen.

God have mercy.

I have felt a bit melancholic the whole day, been thinking about life and faith, prayed for a man in need of prayer…

My neighbour Jaska sat on the stairs yesterday when I came from the city. He was a bit shrunken and skinny. I sat down beside him and asked how life goes. “It’s over now” he said and looked at me with sad eyes. “I’ve got cancer, about 3-6 months left to live, there is nothing the doctors can do”.

When the curtains were closed it was a signal that Jaska was drunk. This happened quite often. When he was sober he was helpful and funny. One winter he helped me with the snow and I thanked him. He said: “poor riders” and laughed. With Jaska we spoke Finnish and Swedish and he often joked about things when we met outside.

Now we sat on the stairs. He looked at me with tired eyes. We talked about life and I asked him if he is interested in questions related to faith. “No no, I pay church taxes, that is enough”, he said. I told him about my own faith and felt that it was really hard to reach him on that level. He got very quiet and look straight in front of him. Before I left I said that I would pray for him. “I hope it helps!” he said and looked kindly at me.

God, have mercy on a poor rider like Jaska. A man that has been hurt in the battles of life. And have mercy on me that feels that my words are not enough.

Maria

Heaven closer than we think?

It is my belief that the distance between heaven and earth is quite short. I’ve come to this as I’ve read the story about Jesus and how he takes his disciples Peter, John and James with him up on a high mountain. His purpose – if we read the text from Luke (9:28) – his purpose is to simply pray. There is nothing big going on, it is no special day, they are just planning to pray. But what happens? While he is praying, he starts to change in front of them. It is obvious that God is there. Jesus’ face and clothes are changing. It is as if heaven is literally opening and everything that heaven is like – the purity, the beauty, the atmosphere – all of that takes over. It is as if heaven breaks through and all can see it.

And yes, that is how close heaven is. Sometimes I think we misunderstand this. We think that the distance between heaven and earth is so long. But it can not be. In Jesus heaven has come close to us. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says: ”Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” We are surrounded, all the time, by those who have left this earth before us and we can also say that wherever Jesus is heaven is. This does of course not take away our grief and our pain when someone dies, but it can help is understand that nothing, nothing can separate us.

I love this text! It helps me prepare to that which is ahead of me. The fact is, we are all going to die, not just a few of us. And I think it is important to practise thinking about heaven. Heaven has to become so real for us that we can easily let go of all earthly things without any problem. I wish I could prepare so well that I could express myself like John puts it: “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. (4:1).

The door is open. I want to see that already now!

Pastor Camilla

Finally found

In August, almost one year ago, Jori, my friend who also is a pastor, travels to a national park in central Finand to have four days of loneliness and silence before the work starts again, after the vacation. The same evening this happens: On the beach he meets an older man from the area. The man is waiting for a friend, another old man, that has gone to get a boat from the northern part of the national park, around 10 kilometers away.

The hours pass and late that night they realize: The man is still somewhere and they don’t know where. Something must have happened. They involve the police that start to look for the man, without success that night. The project continues the next day. One challenge is that the man who is lost both has diabetes and a memory problem.

Six or seven police patrols are doing their best. The Red Cross and the border guards are there. A helicopter is in the air and the man is also looked for by a thermal imager. A big amount of regular people have involved in the project as well. Late that night the message comes: The man is found after 36 hours of searching! He is alive and in quite good shape.

Why do I tell this? In Luke 15 Jesus shares a story about a shepherd that leaves his 99 sheep in the desert and does his everything to find the one that is lost. The story can teach us a lot about how Jesus puts his priorities, his heart for each and every individual and the inviolable worth of every human being. The man that was looked for in the park was in one way a nobody, a person that those who were seeking did not know. However, they still put a lot of energy, money and time in the project. And the leading police officer cried when the man was found.

I am deeply touched by the story. What if we in our churches had the same heart for those that are not yet there.

Pastor Camilla

Loved through and through

In the beginning of this new year I have read one of the more remarkable books in the Bible: The Song of Songs. Eight chapters on pure love. The book is written by King Solomon, whose name means “peaceful”. He is also called “Jedidja”, a name that means “The beloved of the Lord”. In the New Testament Jesus mentions Solomon for example in the sermon on the mount when he describes the lilies of the fields and says: “…not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these” (Matth. 6:29). Solomon was king David’s son and when the queen of Sheba, a woman from present-day Yemen, came to see Solomon, she was totally fascinated with his wisdom. And this wise man is at the same time full of love. What a combo!

In Song of Songs Solomon describes what the bridegroom, the bride and the friends say. The bridegroom is a picture of God and the bride a picture of Israel or the church. What fascinates me is that the bride, the church, in the text is so sure about being completely and perfectly loved. “I am very dark, but lovely”, she says about herself. “Draw me after you”, she asks. She is loved but she wants more. She is completely rooted in love but still not satisfied. This is my prayer for the new year: To become 100% convinced about being loved all the way through by God and still dare to ask for more.

And the bridegroom, God, in the text is not slow to answer: “You are most beautiful…”. That is the thought we receive today. Loved and blessed, that is our name.

Pastor Camilla

Advent with depth and meaning

Advent is an important season. But there is indeed a risk that our enormous focus on Christmas will make us forget the meaning of Advent. We hurry to get to the ham, the stockfish and the gifts and we miss what could have happened during the weeks before Christmas.

The first Advent we read about Jesus entering Jerusalem while the people sing Hosannah. This year I noticed two things in the story: Jesus rides on a donkey and it looks like He is crying?

A donkey is a small animal. If you try to ride on a donkey you will notice that your feet almost touch the ground. It is a big difference to ride on a horse, the way many kings in history have entered the cities. “See, your king comes to you… lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey, Zechariach prophesies 520 years before Christ (9:9). Jesus did not come as a king on a horse. He came humbly on a donkey to show that He “…lives in a high and holy place but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit” (Is. 57:15). This continues to be His attitude. He sees the pain, He sees the need and He comes down to our level to carry our pain.

In Luke’s version of the story about Jesus riding into Jerusalem it says that He cried when He saw the city: “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you. even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace” (19:41-42). Jesus, the Messiah, cries when He sees the city and the people – these who did not understand who He was and what He wanted to do with their lives. Jesus cries because the message does not hit home. My prayer for this Advent is that I would not miss what He wants to do, His will and whatever is on His heart. My prayer is also that my heart would be moved to minister to those that do not understand who Jesus is.

Advent is a meaningful time – keep eyes and ears open.

Pastor Camilla

A new song?

In one of his psalms David says – and it is a quite amazing statement actually – ”He put a new song in my mouth” (40:3). The words can be understood in different ways of course: God changed the atmosphere on David’s inside and added the sound of a new song. David went from minus to plus. Or then David really made a new song, something that is very likely, if you think about all the texts David produced in the Psalms.

This fall I got an idea: I have contacted musicians and singers and asked them to contribute with a new song to a “Christmas calendar 2021” on Facebook and Youtube. My dream is that we would present a new song daily and maybe some of the thoughts behind the song: how was it born, what happened in life right then? At the same time we give these people an opportunity to say “A blessed advent” to all who listen. I don’t have 24 singers yet, but I am working on it. Exciting, isn’t it?

Pastor Camilla

The good part

During the last days I have been thinking about distractions. There are various sorts of them. Something unexpected happens, someone says something that creates a frustration or you get angry with yourself because you forgot something important. Many things may upset us. The problem is that distractions often grow in size and become huge if we don’t control them.

The Bible says that Mary chose the good part, while her sister was lost in distractions. (Luke 10:41-42). The good part was the peace at the feet of Jesus, the focus on the words that came out of His mouth. That part was not going to be taken away from her. The good part always needs to be chosen, it does not happen all by itself. You have to choose the peace close to Jesus and turn your face away from that which causes stress and frustrations. But when you’ve found your place close to Him you sit by the well. And it always overflows.

Pastor Camilla

GROW

About a month ago I started a one year training in coaching and it is extremely interesting. A word we have talked about is the word GROW. As you mirror yourself in that word, you can ask yourself the following questions. The risk in life is, isn’t it, that the development and growth stop at some time? And then everything continues like before. I am so happy that Jesus challenges us growth and development. That makes life so meaningful!

Take the letters in the word GROW and you get this: G as in GOAL. What do you want to do of your life, where are you heading? What kind of development and growth would you like to see? R as in REALITY. What does your life look like right now? Is there anything that needs to happen in order for growth to happen? Anything you need to let go of, anything you need to add? O as in OPTIONS. What are your options? Do you see them or are you looking so much in the old direction that you miss the opportunities? W as in WILL. In order not to get stuck where you are, what changes will you make, what steps will you take? Remember, growth usually happens outside of your comfort zone.

Sit down with a pen and a paper before God. Ask Him to speak to you as you think about the questions. You choose how deep you let them challenge you. They might sound over-easy and superficial but they are, perhaps, deeper than you think. Have a blessed day!