I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:16-17
Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Hattula, Finland was constructed nearly a decade before Luther wrote and nailed the 95 Theses. Its architecture and design are full of rich symbolism regarding what it means to be Christ’s church. The interior walls that surround the people and the vaults that cover them feature a series of paintings that focus on God’s work for his people, especially from the life of Christ. A series of pillars standing among the assembly features further images from the history of the church. The design communicates that each and every person standing amongst the assembly is connected with all the saints. Not just those from that congregation who have fallen asleep in Jesus. They are connected to all Christians, from every time and every place. To be a part of the church is to be a part of something so much larger then just the here and now. It is to be a part of God’s heavenly and eternal community. The church is something much greater than those who make up a single congregation’s membership rolls. It is to be part of the whole body of believers from all times and from all places.
The other thing about the Finnish church is that the design communicates that the people are wrapped in the life of Christ. Christ envelopes us and consumes us with His work of saving you from sin and death. From one generation to the next, from the crises of the past to our present pandemic, we have all been made part of Jesus’ salvation history. This is what is proclaimed and taught in the old historic congregations and in the new mission starts. Though one congregation may seem small and easily forgotten, what a comfort it is to know for a church in a town of less than 10,000 in Southwestern Finland has been joined with churches throughout the ages that confess Christ’s saving name.
You and your congregation are part of that great tradition. We give thanks to God that in these difficult days that our congregations continue to hold to the truth that St. Paul taught everywhere in every church. Our hope and prayer is that by the Holy Spirit’s work that we might remain faithful and true to the faith once delivered to the saints. May God comfort you in knowing that you are indeed part of something greater than simply one congregation, but God’s work through every church everywhere.
Prayer – Almighty God, defend us from those who would lead us astray into false teaching, but guided by Your Holy Spirit, preserve Your Word among us all of our congregations that Christ’s name may be hallowed and Your people saved; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan