Bishop Kaisamari Hintikka is the third bishop of Espoo Diocese, which was founded in 2004. Kaisamari Hintikka was consecrated as bishop on 10th February 2019 in Espoo Cathedral.
Biography: Doctor of Theology, University of Helsinki in 2001. Ordained on November 15, 2009 in the Diocese of Helsinki. In 2011-2018 she worked in Geneva, where she served from August 2012 as Director of the Department for Theology and Public Witness of the Lutheran World Federation and as Deputy Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs. Before moving to Switzerland, she worked as an executive secretary for the Finnish Lutheran Church’s Foreign Affairs Department.
Christmas greeting 2021
Do not be afraid
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ (Luke 2:8–12)
Do not be afraid. Are any words more reassuring? The words are a comfort when I wake from a nightmare, when I’m worried about the future, when I’m lonely, when I miss another’s calming presence and encouragement. Even if the fear of a bad dream continues when you’re still awake, or anxiety about tomorrow doesn’t immediately vanish, the words “do not be afraid” tell you there’s someone close at hand. There is another who sees this moment from a distance, sees a glint of light in the darkness, wants to offer comfort and encouragement.
The Christmas gospel tells us the shepherds are pretty scared when the angel, God’s messenger, appears to them in the somnolent darkness of night. The angel’s soothing greeting “Do not be afraid!” is not confined to one place.
The promise of Christmas is that you don’t need to be afraid. However, the promise is about much more than an unexpected encounter in the field by night. “Do not be afraid!” are the words of the God who sent the angel – the God born as one of us on that very night.
It’s miraculous that God, the Creator of all things, is born as the very least. It isn’t as a great victor or one who rules through the fear of might that God appears. Instead, God is born a child in need of protection and security, a human being at their most vulnerable. At the same time God is the ruler of everything, who knows the beginning and the end of time. That’s why God’s promise that we don’t need to be afraid is so great. It’s a promise for the future and the hope that the light will overcome the darkness.
The new-born baby Jesus invites us to draw close to him, to forget the darkness of the night, to banish tomorrow’s anxiety. Do not be afraid. It is for precisely this moment. He is the Saviour who is lovingly and compassionately present. He is the radiant peace of Christmas Eve.
I wish you a blessed and peaceful Christmas.
Translation Rupert Mureton
Easter greeting 2021
In the light of the Easter Morning
During the Holy Week we walk in the footsteps of Jesus. On Good Friday, our journey takes us to the foot of the cross. We are facing the moment of deepest sorrow and darkness: Jesus gives his life on the cross. All his disciples can see is utter failure and defeat, the end of everything. As they bury Jesus, they also bury the hope they had put in him.
However, the Easter Morning sun is already rising. The tomb covered a moment ago with a stone is now empty. Jesus, who was just buried, meets his friends in the garden. He greets them saying: “Do not be afraid!” (Matt. 28:10). It is no wonder that those encountering him could not believe their eyes. Nevertheless, from underneath wonder and unbelief understanding and faith arise. The brightest light and the greatest joy overwhelm them. The hope that was gone is alive again.
On Easter Morning impossible turns to possible. Life breaks through the power of death. Christ conquers death – not only to live again but to give new life to the whole world. In his life, his death on the cross and in his resurrection the reality of our living God breaks into this world.
In the bright light of Easter Morning, a new reality unfolds. At the empty tomb, our own lives and the entire world can be seen in a new light, in the light of resurrection and hope. Where there was darkness, there is now light. What was mortal, becomes immortal, and what was dead, arises to a new life in communion with God.
From the empty tomb, the Resurrected invites us to continue our journey in his footsteps – every day, to look at ourselves and others, all of creation, in the light of the Easter Morning.
Go spread the news: He’s not in the grave;
He has arisen this world to save.
Jesus’ redeeming labors are done;
Even the battle with sin is won.
Let us sing praise to Him with endless joy;
Death’s fearful sting He has come to destroy.
Our sin forgiving, alleluia!
Jesus is living, alleluia!
(Original text: Bernard Kyamanywa, English: Howard S. Olson)
Christ is risen! Joyful Easter!
Christmas greeting 2020
We are on our way to Christmas. Here in the Nordic countries it is getting darker each day as we are making our way to Christmas, week by week, step by step. This year our journey seems even darker than usually. We are traveling in an unknown ground, in the shadow of Covid-19. We are getting ready for an altogether different Christmas.
It was in the middle of a dark night that the great message of Christmas was proclaimed for the first time. An angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds in the darkness of night. “Fear not!”, he said to the startled group. Fear not, for I bring you good, amazing and joyful news.
The Creator of all, God almighty loves us, the works of His hands, so much that He becomes one of us. The Christmas child, Jesus, was born into the darkest night and will stand by our side weather we face times of light or darkness. And when we are facing the end of our lives, he will carry us through death to life everlasting.
The message of Christmas is a promise of a new reality, a realm of God where His good will reigns. In that reality darkness must give way to light, selfishness to justice, fear to trust. Because of that our journey to Christmas becomes a journey of hope and surrender. This Advent season we are invited to trust in the promises of God. We may travel in darkness, but we are always walking towards light.
Alongside and overlapping this reality we live in exists another reality; The reality of first Christmas, the realm of our compassionate and loving God, the realm of light and hope. And in that reality the loving message of God delivered by angels on Christmas night is proclaimed to all humankind in every corner of the earth: “Fear not!”
With best wishes for a blessed Christmas
The EPP Intercultural Dialogue with Churches and Religious Institutions on the Future of Europe, 9 December 2020
“What do Churches and Religious Communities think of citizens’ and faithfuls’ expectations on the future of Europe”
Dear friends, fellow citizens of Europe,
I am grateful for this opportunity to speak about the roles of churches and religious communities and European citizens vis-à-vis the future of Europe. I am speaking on behalf of the Conference of the European Churches with a Nordic perspective.
Churches are an established and long-term dialogue partner for the European Union – including European Parliament. As the Conference will take place under involvement of European citizens, it is important to remember that churches in Europe represent through their members millions and millions of citizens throughout Europe. Churches are also deeply rooted in all EU Member States – from European and national to the local and regional level. That is why it is only natural that the expectations of the members of the churches vary from one corner of the continents to another – nut this also puts the churches in a natural position to act as bridge-builders and to restore trust between countries, regions and people throughout Europe.
The global community and Europe as part of is, is facing at the moment multiple major changes. When people are moving – not just within their own countries or regions but between the continents, when the climate is change and the biodiversity decreases, Covid-19 closes societies, people tend to seek simple explanations in order to cope with the rapid changes that create insecurity and fear. Simple explanations are fertile soil for polarization of societies, for fragmentation of communities, and for lack of solidarity. We are not just witnessing times of change but change of times, turn of an aeons. This is why we need every bridge builder, every peace maker and every community of hope and good will to plan and to build the future of Europe that is rooted in the values of human dignity, human rights, solidarity and democracy. It is our duty to encourage the faithful to stay firm with this approach.
If we look from the global perspective, we see that all the historical mainline churches have their roots in the European soil. Thus, Christianity has been influencing in shaping Europe during different phases and periods of history, be it the horrors of the Thirty Years War, or the success story of Nordic welfare societies.
The post-WWII times have been marked by strong cooperation between and among the churches in Europe. The Conference of the European Churches was born in 1956 to build bridges between churches and people in our continent divided at the time by the Iron Curtain. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Conference of European Churches has been supporting strongly the European integration process. The churches have been working closely together both with the European institutions and the actors of civil society to build more integrated, more democratic and more just Europe.
The particularity of churches in the European project has been to speak for, to clarify, and to stand for the European values. When we promote together undivided human rights, human dignity that belongs to all, democracy, justice, solidarity, peace, and the common good, we are actually promoting Christian values. For the churches these are not just values adopted from outside their lives or history, but values that are rooted deeply in the core of churches´ own faith and theology, that is these are values part of churches´ self-understanding.
But it is not just the Christian churches that play a crucial role in building the future of Europe that takes place under involvement of European citizens. More recently, cooperation between religious communities in Europe has become more and more important, as well as stronger. During the first two decades of this millennium, we have seen growing number of antisemitic and anti-islamic acts, acts of hatred and violence, taken place in Europe.
The religious communities in Europe need to condemn these appalling developments together. But condemning is not enough. We also need to offer an alternative, a visible way to show that the religious communities themselves are working against the current of hate and build trust and hope for joint future. This is why it is only good that the religious communities in Europe, representing Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities, have strengthened their cooperation. One of the very recent steps to do this is the formation of the Religions for Peace Europe, in process at the moment. This new interfaith body brings under one umbrella various separate European interfaith organizations and at the same time connects them the global network of Religions for Peace.
The rise of the hate crime in Europe tells us that our collective memory is dauntingly brief. this is why it also reminds us that our common values, such as human dignity, human rights and democracy should not be taken for granted. Instead, we need to build democracy actively and in an inclusive way, we need to stand for dignity of every person and for undivided human rights, and this needs to take place in due solidarity and cooperation. The Conference of European Churches together with its Christian and interfaith partners have a strong commitment and experience in building inclusive, hospitable and diverse communities. This is why their role in building the future of Europe is a crucial one.
Churches have an important message and value to add to the discussion about the future of Europe, especially regarding values. Thus, the voice of churches needs to be heard and churches actively involved in the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Bishop Kaisamari Hintikka, Finland
Easter greetings 2020
Life will overcome death
The women who first arrived by the grave of Jesus, found it empty. Quite often we think of this moment as a joyous one. But joy was not the immediate reaction of the disciples arriving to the grave. According to the gospels they were perplexed and afraid, they were wondering and wept, they did not first recognize Jesus when they met him. Mary stands weeping outside the tomb, doubting that someone has removed the body of Jesus. Peter looks in the empty grave, but does not understand what has happened, and goes away.
The reactions of the disciples by the empty tomb are human. In the middle of their sorrow, they are unable to remember what Jesus himself had said: That the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again. (Lk 24:7). Their thoughts are only focused into the moment at hand, to the excruciating information that their beloved one is gone.
Sorrow, despair, seeking and finally joy and mirth in facing the inexplicable are intertwined in the gospel readings of the Easter Morning. We long for our beloved ones, we come to the grave, we seek for consolation in our sorrow. The same pain which the disciples experienced, the same pain that Jesus went through in his life, is also our share.
But what is more meaningful are the latter part of Jesus´ words: rise again. These are the words that will remain – the resurrection and life will remain.
This is the understanding that brings forth joy. The joy that makes the women who met Jesus to rush away from the grave, out of the garden, to the others, to bring the good news into the whole world. At Easter morning, impossible becomes possible, the boarder between heaven and earth, between this reality and God´s reality and the reality of this world will break down, and life will overcome death.
Joyful Easter to all