Much More Than A Church Picnic

Rev Tuomas Mäkipää from Helsinki writes about an amazing outdoor service

The temperature was somewhere around thirty degrees in Celsius (it has been like that for more than a week now) as we gathered for the Chaplaincy outing in Nuuksio National Park just 30 kilometres from Helsinki. Not having our own church building forces us to be creative. And sometimes it gives us the flexibility to arrange a memorable day – as indeed was the case on 26 July, on the Feast of Anna and Joachim, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Chaplaincy outing is more or less an established tradition for the people of St Nicholas, Helsinki. This year, as Bryan and Edem Taylor were seeking a suitable date for the baptism of their son, Hubert Komla Deladem ('a bright minded boy born on a Tuesday, delivered by the Lord'), we decided to find out if we could combine these two events. So the idea of having the Eucharist with Baptism in the forest by a lake, in Nuuksio National Park, came to exist.

We have hardly ever advertised so much as we did this year. So it was not so much a surprise when another candidate for baptism was identified. What made this interesting is that she lives in Turku, a city located 200 km to the West from Helsinki. Esther Wanjiku Kamau asked if I could baptize her by immersion. This was a wonderful idea, bringing together various aspects of baptism.

So the group of forty people – old and new friends - set on to a walk to the Mustalampi lake in Nuuksio National Park, where on a small hill next to the lake the service began; the Opening, the Presentation of the Candidates, the Word of God, the Decision. After these we made a small procession down to the lake where the Prayer Over the Water, Profession of Faith and Baptism took place. Then, after the Commission, Prayers of Intercession and the Peace, we processed back up to the hill to continue with the Eucharist.

Rev Marjaana Toiviainen, a Finnish Lutheran priest with a strong link to East Africa was preaching at the Eucharist. After the service we shared a pot-luck style dinner with some serious BBQ! Some remembered their own baptism by swimming. A memorable day togther which was a true blessing for us all. A pilgrimage, standing on an ancient bedrock, baptism in a lake, the Eucharist and sharing a fellowship – a true Christian life.

Finland service

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