Tuesday, August 2, 2011

From Death to Life

Yesterday, we took a trip to the outer coast, west of Bergen. One of the places we visited was Tellevåg. This is a tiny place that is quaint and idyllic. Looking around, you would have no idea what tragedy took place not all that long ago. During WWII, this coastal community was taken over by German Nazis. On April 30, 1942, every single building (homes, boat houses, and businesses) was bombed and completely destroyed by the Gestapo. The whole town completely wiped out. Every man between the ages of 16 and 60 were sent to German concentration camps. Over half of them never returned.

We had a picnic down at the harbor. It was peaceful and beautiful. The whole area has been rebuilt. We visited a memorial honoring those who died. A reminder of what can happen. Yet, looking around, the Norwegian people rebuilt and moved forward. From death to life.....

This week has been the first of many funerals for those who were killed in the bombing and the shootings on July 22nd. The newspapers and the TV have been showing us the faces and the names of those killed - most of them just kids.....The Pastors here have a tough job. It is a challenge to speak God's love and forgiveness when such a senseless event has happened - one that brings tears to God's eyes and makes God's heart heavy. A lot of the news programs over here have been including conversations with clergy, with intentions, I hope, of helping to bring comfort and a breath of new life to the Norwegian people. They have a great task of ministering to a whole country that is open to listening right now. Churches are being filled with people coming to light candles, to pray, to have conversation, and hear God's Word of grace and hope in the midst of tragedy. Uncommon for a country where only 2-3% actually attend worship. The Spirit is powerful and I believe the Spirit is moving in this country right now. From death to life.....

This evening, workers are clearing away the enormous mounds of flowers, candles, and messages that have been left in memorial in Oslo, in front of the Cathedral. The memorial has grown so large, they had to close off the street. Some of the flowers are starting to die. The plan is that everything will be removed yet nothing thrown away. Once the flowers decompose, they will be used as part of the ground at the memorial that is being planned to be constructed. The candles and messages will be saved as well, and somehow displayed. What a powerful image......the 100's of 1,000's of flowers placed in memory of those who died, are going to be used to bring new life.

Overall in Norway, I believe that there has been life that has arisen out of the unthinkable death. You can feel it in the air. You hear it in the conversations. Even strangers will start talking to each other about the tragedy that has taken place in this land, yet I now hear them end their conversations by talking about how the people have come together and how Norway is stronger through it all. From death to Life....

Resurrection is powerful. We have a powerful God who promises us life. Sometimes it can be hard to see and it can be easy to feel overcome by darkness. But as the sun is setting over here in Norway, the Land of the Midnight Sun, it does not ever get completely dark these summer days. A powerful reminder. Christ's light shines, whispering to us the promise that Christ brings us from death to life.

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