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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: A call I could not decline

Vieraskieliset / In-english
4.7.2022 6.00

Juttua muokattu:

7.6. 09:55
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Text: Mark­ku Ka­mu­la

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen

In the mor­ning it see­med like a per­fect­ly or­di­na­ry day. I do not even re­mem­ber how or­di­na­ry. Now, close to 20 ye­ars la­ter, I feel I can think back to it and re­mi­nis­ce.

I gu­ess I read the dai­ly pa­per over a cup of cof­fee, hel­ped the kids with their mor­ning rou­ti­nes, and even gave the lit­t­le ones a ride to school. I re­mem­ber that, on­ce at work, I was put­ting pro­duct mo­dels in­to my brief­ca­se for a cus­to­mer call and chec­king I had the ne­ces­sa­ry pens, pa­pers, etc. That was when the phone rang.

It was the chair of the bo­ard of the lo­cal cong­re­ga­ti­on. Af­ter exc­han­ging gree­tings, he went straight to the point. He as­ked if he and anot­her mem­ber of the bo­ard could come for a vi­sit that eve­ning. I said it would be fine. Or do you think I could have re­fu­sed? That phone call trig­ge­red a thought pro­cess the like of which I had ne­ver ex­pe­rien­ced be­fo­re. I de­ve­lo­ped a sto­mach ac­he right away. It was ago­ni­zing to pon­der if I had done so­met­hing bad that ot­her pe­op­le knew about and that had cau­sed such pub­lic of­fen­ce that the bo­ard con­si­de­red it ne­ces­sa­ry to ap­p­ro­ach me.

Des­pi­te my tur­bu­lent thoughts, I had to meet the cus­to­mer as pre­vi­ous­ly ag­reed. I tried to con­cent­ra­te ful­ly on the task at hand. The mee­ting went well, and the out­co­me was fa­vo­rab­le.

But on the drive home that eve­ning, my thoughts be­gan to race again. I could on­ly think of one re­a­son for this vi­sit, and that did not calm down my sto­mach at all. I told my wife about the vi­sit right away. She was speech­less, and I gu­ess she was quic­ker than I in gu­es­sing what it was all about.

When the brot­hers came, we sat down in the kids’ bed­room to have some pri­va­cy for dis­cus­si­on. They told me the bo­ard had de­ci­ded to ap­point a few new spe­a­kers, and I was one of them. At that point my emo­ti­o­nal dam broke and I burst in­to te­ars. For a while I just cried, unab­le to ut­ter a word.

I fi­nal­ly found my voi­ce again and said I would not dare to re­fu­se. I gu­ess I fi­gu­red out that if this was the He­a­ven­ly Fat­her’s will, I could not dec­li­ne if I wan­ted to keep my faith. We then had cof­fee and tal­ked about it some more. By then I was no lon­ger so up­set. Even wit­hout that cof­fee I would have sta­yed awa­ke for most the night, but it was a sleep­less night well spent.

It daw­ned on me pret­ty soon that spe­a­ker brot­hers pre­ach about the Bib­le in ser­vi­ces, and that I would have no ot­her al­ter­na­ti­ve my­self. That made me even more wor­ried – I hard­ly knew the Bib­le at all. We had stu­died the Bib­le for con­fir­ma­ti­on, but that was long time ago. I had done all cour­ses on re­li­gi­ous stu­dies in high school and writ­ten one long es­say on ”Je­sus – God and man”, but that was just about it. I had been lis­te­ning at ser­vi­ces, flu­ent­ly and most­ly with a po­si­ti­ve at­ti­tu­de, but I re­a­li­zed I did not re­mem­ber much about it.

I be­gan to read the Bib­le that same night. My wife had bought me a Bib­le a few ye­ars pre­vi­ous­ly. I de­ci­ded to start from the be­gin­ning of the New Tes­ta­ment. I read through the gos­pels and the Acts twice pret­ty quick­ly; it on­ly took me a few eve­nings. I re­a­li­zed qui­te soon that I would ne­ver make a spe­a­ker who could quo­te long Bib­le por­ti­ons from me­mo­ry.

But it was use­ful to read. I be­gan to dis­cern the ove­rall struc­tu­re of the Bib­le and ex­pe­rien­ced ge­nui­ne fin­der’s joy. Many of the ser­mons I had he­ard came to life in my mind. I was down­right start­led to read the words: ”Fo­xes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58). I re­a­li­zed that sure, I re­mem­ber, this is what I he­ard spo­ken about at Ii­sal­mi Sum­mer Ser­vi­ces.

Some time la­ter I star­ted re­a­ding sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly the Old Tes­ta­ment, and that job is still un­fi­nis­hed. But you know, there is time…

We ag­reed with the brot­hers of the bo­ard that we would not talk about this mat­ter pub­lic­ly yet. The no­vi­ce spe­a­kers would be int­ro­du­ced to the cong­re­ga­ti­on for ap­p­ro­val la­ter on. I can tell you they were long weeks! At ser­vi­ces I felt eve­ry­bo­dy was sta­ring at me, a can­di­da­te spe­a­ker. I don’t know if they knew about it. But I know sec­rets tend to leak out.

I ex­pe­rien­ced mo­ments of pa­nic when I be­gan to en­vi­si­on glimp­ses of my new re­a­li­ty. I was won­de­ring if I could even ser­ve in the spe­a­ker’s role, being the kind of per­son that I was – eit­her I would have to be­co­me a bet­ter and more dig­ni­fied per­son, or the brot­hers and sis­ters would have to ac­cept that I could ne­ver en­joy the pres­ti­ge re­la­ted to being a spe­a­ker. For­tu­na­te­ly, I was ab­le to dis­cuss this with a friend who was in the same si­tu­a­ti­on. I al­so sha­red the news with my pa­rents and my best friends. They see­med de­ligh­ted and wis­hed me God’s bles­sing. They said this was ob­vi­ous­ly how things were me­ant to hap­pen.

Then came the day when I put on a dark suit, a white shirt and a tie. There was a small fes­ti­ve ce­re­mo­ny at the ser­vi­ces, where the three of us were ap­poin­ted as ser­vants of the word. It was all com­for­ting and en­cou­ra­ging.

Du­ring the cof­fee break, one guy grab­bed my arm and wis­hed me good luck and God’s bles­sings. Then he said, ”It is ea­sy for you who are spe­a­kers. You go up in­to the pul­pit and con­fess yo­ur faith, and you will al­so be ca­red.” I was so puz­z­led I al­most did not un­ders­tand what he me­ant. But they were com­for­ting words.

My first ser­mon was sche­du­led for Eas­ter Mon­day. I pe­ru­sed the texts for that day and thought I could try to speak about the men on the road to Em­maus. I was so busy re­a­ding the Bib­le that it was a won­der my swe­a­ting hands did not wear ho­les in the pa­ges.

On Eas­ter Sun­day I went for a long run. The words Je­sus had spo­ken to the men on the road to Em­maus “O foo­lish ones and slow of he­art to be­lie­ve” (Luke 24:25) were rus­hing and poun­ding in my head pro­pel­led by my ri­sing blood pres­su­re. I felt tho­rough­ly un­wort­hy. I had ne­ver been a long-dis­tan­ce run­ner, and now I was sup­po­sed to be a spe­a­ker. I felt my­self even less wort­hy when our ol­dest son said he would not come to ser­vi­ces – ”you will just spoil eve­ryt­hing”. But in the end he came. When I wal­ked in­to the as­semb­ly hall, my legs were jel­ly. And when the cong­re­ga­ti­on star­ted to sing the hymn, I was pet­ri­fied.

When I had gone to the pul­pit and ope­ned the Bib­le, things cal­med down. We uni­ted in pra­yer. I felt that the whole cong­re­ga­ti­on was pra­ying. I read the text and spoke the words I was gi­ven from abo­ve.

They were qui­te or­di­na­ry ser­vi­ces af­ter all.

16.8.2022

Joka heikkoa sortaa, herjaa hänen Luojaansa, joka Luojaa kunnioittaa, armahtaa köyhää. Sananl. 14:31

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