Translating the Bible into Lego bricks

Finnish Bible Society celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. Translating the Bible to new languages goes on all over the world, today more than ever. Occationally, we need new translations to e.g. English and Finnish, because the language and culture changes all the time. But translating is not only about words. It’s also about new ways of expression.

This video clip is one example of an effort to translate the Bible into “modern language”. It tells the story of David and Goliath with Lego bricks. A very good idea, but one thing bothers me: Goliath speaks English with Cockney accent, while David speaks sophisticated Oxford English. Also, David has blonde hair. This setup seems to hold on to 19th century London class society and imperialistic ideals, perhaps unintentionally. Still, the Holy Spirit (or “Holy Ghost”, to be more sophisticated) is able to use this video to reach out to people of today. And I’m sure He does.

Dance + Pray combines conventional service with techno culture

(Added: link to video from Dance mass)

Finnish Lutheran Church is unique in the world as it hosts a wide variety of alternative divine services, “genre masses”. The phenonmenon started in the eighties by African Gospel Mass by Pekka Simojoki, followed by Thomas Mass, both of which have been later translated to several languages and adopted by sister churches in other countries. Today, there are hundreds of special service concepts in our church.

One of the latest inventions is Dance + pray service, “Dancemessu”. It is a combination of a trance/house dance event and a mass, a conventional service with eucharist (Lord’s supper).

Holy dancing has biblical roots back to king David’s time. David danced before the Lord in public, rejoicing in the Lord. Saul’s daughter Michal disliked David’s dance, considering it unworthy for a king. Consequently Michal remained fruitless. (2. Samuel 6)

In Finnish culture, dance has traditionally been labeled as a sinful way of expressing oneself, as it has gone hand-in-hand with heavy drinking and liberal dating. Only very recently, dance has come to be used in Finnish church life. Using dance as an element of prayer emphasizes the holistic nature of biblical anthropology: Man as a whole – body, soul and spirit – is called to praise the lord.

Dance + Pray service has been initiated by dance musician Kimmo Korpela from Jyväskylä, Central Finland. The music of the service represents the genres of trance and techno dance.  Inside the church, an altar area whith effect lights and video screens is erected, and record players play the role of “the organ”.  The highlight of the night comes when people are allowed to dance around the altar, praising God.

“Dancemessu” in Michael’s Church (Mikaelinkirkko), Puistokatu 16, March 23th 2012 A.D.

Doors open at 7 p.m.

Mass begins at 8 p.m.

Read more:

Welcome to Life

Sermon in beginning of Lent, 2011


Matthew. 16:21-23  Click here to read the passage (opens to new window)

Jessu spent 40 days in the wilderness and was tempted by the devil. Before Easter, we have a 40 days’ period of Lent. We are tempted in the same way as Jesus was. Therefore we can learn from the way he handled the temptations.

Welcome to the wilderness.

Or – as the devil says in the 2-episode Motion picture Jesus  – “Welcome to life”.

(Watch part of the movie in embedded video below.)


Life without temptations is not life as we know it. When Jesus said “I am the Life”, he did not mean super-life without shadows and worries. Jesus is “Life” also because he knows the dark side of life.

In the wilderness, life is stripped from the matters of everyday life. Therefore, Satan attacks openly. He has no disguise to his disposal. More commonly, temptations come disguised in the middle of everyday life, often through well-meaning friends and relatives. This happened to Jesus when Peter tried to talk him out of walking into certain death. Jesus then said: “Go away, Satan!”

The discussion between Jesus and Peter shows us three stumbling blocks on the way toward Godly life:

  1. Wrong presupposition, that doing God’s will means a happy life that feels victorious and faultless. It is nothing of the kind.
  2. Wrong kind of dependence on other people’s opinions and verdicts. God does use other people to show you His will, but so does the devil. Sometimes we need “the wilderness” – freedom from people – to find out what God has to say.
  3. Dependence on intellectual reasoning in desicion-making. There is always arguments for and against the will of God. You have to find out His will independent of reasoning.

When God calls, hold on to the call. Pray for confirmation that it is really God who has spoken to you. Then make your desicion, trusting that God always gives wisdom to anyone who sincerely prays for it.

Jesus was tempted, but did not fall. We, on the contrary, fall again and again. Nevertheless, God has the power to lead us all the way home. He forgives, he always shows the way.

Secret And Sacred In Election And In Church

The second round of the Finnish presidental election had some previously unseen populistic elements. I am referring to the new kind of grass root fellowship people experienced, when proclaming publicly – in the streets and in social media – whom they intended to vote. Is it good to “show your color”? It seems honest, fair enough. But if we stop valuing secrecy in elections, we are in dangerous waters.

Secrecy has fortunately not disappeared from elections, every individual still votes anonymously in a closed booth. Secrecy of the ballot is one of the corner stones of democracy, undermining it chould have unpredictable effects. Many scientific investigations and historical examples show that social pressure can make people do things they never would even imagine doing by own initiative. Secrecy of election gives people the opportunity to vote as the heart says, without social pressure or fear of being discriminated.

On the other hand, people yearn for a revival of human fellowship. It is, of course, nice hanging around with like-minded people, but there is always a danger that this kind of community provokes a fighting spirit against other people, sharpens dividing lines and simplifies complex issues.

This applies to presidential election as well as to church life.

As secrecy of the ballot is a safety mechanism against side effects of collectivity, even church has its counterparty to community: The secrecy of confession. Voting and confessing sins are both acts of extraordinary intimacy, where people’s spiritual integrity must be properly cared for. When sins are confessed to another person (often a priest), this person is not present as an individual, but rather as God’s representative or mediator.

Prayer is also very intimate. Jesus emphasized the individual nature of prayer in a culture where it was usually seen as a collective ritual. He tought: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 New International Version)

Not only individual prayer, but everything that is individual and private is always holy, because only Holy God sees it. It is no coincidence that the English words “sacred” and “secret” are so close to each other. Both words are linked to the Latin word “sacramentum”, a sacrament.

Even elections have a sacramental aspect: Our Father, “who sees what is done in secret”, sees even the act of election. Everyone has the right to do the final choice only in the electoral booth and vote differently than he or she has publicly proclaimed.

It is important to notice that cherishing electoral secrecy is a way of protecting the weak. If people are – even indirectly and unintentionally – pressed to tell publicly their voting intentions, easily manipulated individuals are deprived their democratic equality.

Genuinly Christian community is not based on opinions or on shared enemies, but to a simple faith in Jesus as savior from all sins. Any additional criteria may endanger real fellowship of the Holy Spirit – not only political stands, but even theological opinions or sympathies toward specific spiritual movements.

We all have repenting to do from treating each other unequally. Fortunately, we are all equal before God, who alone sees into the holy of holies of each person, in politics as well as in the church.

A Message As Solid As Iron

Watch here a clip from “Metall Service”, March 14th 2009 in Michael’s Church