|Outside the Cathedral in Helsinki|
|At the Vallila Help Centre (above, with Coordinator Eeva and Fr Tuomas)|
It was with this in mind that I was so moved by a visit to the Ukraine Vallila Help Centre, a project supported by USPG and this diocese, which provides holistic support to so many of the thousands of refugees, mainly women and children, who have fled their native Ukraine due to the war. It is heroic work, largely led by tireless volunteers, who express love and charity to those in need.
|Santa Lucia, Finnish Orthodox Style|
In the early evening I joined with Finnish ecumenical partners in the chapel of the headquarters of the Orthodox Church of Finland for vespers and a celebration of Lucia, Finnish Orthodox style. With the liturgy in Finnish, Swedish and some English, we commemorated St Lucy, the fourth century Sicilian martyr, so beloved of Nordic peoples. In the darkness of Advent in the northern hemisphere, Santa Lucia, with the crown of candles and the red sash of martyrdom, reminds us of the Light which pierces the powers of darkness.
|Bishop Daniel (2nd from left) and Metropolitan Leo (right, Finnish Orthodox Church)|
A special guest at that service was Bishop Daniel from the Ancient Church of the East who is based in Erbil, Iraq, and who ministers to one of the oldest continuously existing Christian groups in the world. Christians in Iraq continue to encounter many difficulties, including persecution and terrorism. It was a special moment to ask a bishop from the Middle East to pronounce the blessing at the conclusion of the service marking the advent of the Holy One, born in the Holy Land.
|St Nicholas Chaplaincy Carol Service|
Some photos courtesy of Leena Jalkanen and Linda Jämsén