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* The Images of God in a Land of Darkness*
By Sharon Ojanpa Mackey, FHM reporter
This was the topic offered at the Finnish Heritage Museum in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, on May 11, 2014, by the Rev. David Laakso. A native of Conneaut, Ohio, and a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Rev. Laakso presented a fascinating program, complete with digital slides, as he reflected on some of the churches he and his wife Becky have visited in Finland.
The Rev. Laakso’s paternal grandparents and maternal great-grandparents all emigrated from Finland; with his mother’s grandparents settling in Fairport Harbor, Ohio.
The many hours of darkness in Finland during the winter lend themselves to a sense of isolation, sleepiness, depression, alcoholism, and even suicide. Christianity was introduced into this dark land over a thousand years ago, in 905 AD. How do you proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in a land of darkness? Through its churches.
The Swedes brought religion to Finland in the form of Catholicism. Later, Michael Agricola, a student of Martin Luther and a native of Finland, introduced the Protestant Reformation to the country, and the Lutheran religion became the official church of Finland.
The gathering space of worship is referred to as the nave, but that word is also understood to be the inverted bottom of a boat. In a land of more than 187,000 lakes, what could be more natural then going to church by boat? Could this be why many church naves depict ships?
The slides shown by the Rev. Laakso depict individual churches, each with a unique story or feature. Many were complemented by pertinent verses from the Bible.