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Field devotional for the Independence Day review of troops in Hamina on 6.12.2022

Defence Forces
Publication date 6.12.2022 12.27
Press release

New Testament pericope according to Luke 19:1-10 [RSV]

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So, he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So, he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold. And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”


Ladies and gentlemen celebrating this Independence Day to-day! When was the previous time that something made you feel that you are special and that you matter?  What made you feel this way? Was it something that you did? Or did someone say something to you? What did it feel like? What did this ma-ke you think about?

Now, the story about Zacchaeus may not be the most tradi-tional New Testament pericope for an Independence Day de-votional. Yet I opted for this text for its strong message on how an outwardly minor matter gets a human being to wake up from a dreamy apparition of meaninglessness and distortions. In wedding ceremonies, an excerpt of the Song of Solomon (8:7b, RSV) is often read to close with: ”If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.” Obviously, food and shelter are necessary, but Zacchaeus was unhappy despite all his wealth. He lacked something important. He had lost his sense of self, his dignity.

While serving as a chaplain in a brigade-level unit I noticed that, in a conscript platoon, doing things together and cheering each other on resulted in excellent experiences even when the tasks may have remained arduous and uncomfortable. Similar-ly, the most comfortable taskings failed to lift up the mood if one had to work alone or if the team spirit was less optimal. The key is in how we encounter another person, and the type of interaction that this then generates.

Security will be done together, both with acquaintances and strangers alike. At some point, please take a test. When at a grocery store or running an errand, take a moment to pause at a person you do not know from before. If the cashier clerk smiles at you, acknowledge the complement and give them a smile also. If you have had a cumbersome day, explain your experiences to someone who listens. From time to time, this experimenting will make you face disappointing moments, but you are also bound to experience plenty of warm interacting. At least you will notice the difference between relating to people as opposed to overlooking others.

Security will be done together when we see to it that no one is pushed over or aside and that no one falls. To accomplish this may take nothing more than a small gesture as such: meeting people with appreciation, asking for help, and offering aid. These small gestures generate the large-scale change. You can do this. I can do this. Together we can do this. Since where there is compassion, where two or three meet each oth-er with love, there God is also present.


Almighty God, the Sovereign of all nations.
Today we thank You for this good country 
that You have given us.
Thank You for the mercy with which You have led our nation 
through hardship and battle to this day.
Please give us eagerness and stamina
to take care of each other
and the skill to cooperate.
Please guide us with Your Word
so that we remain on the path of Your will
to reach our destination in our heavenly Fatherland.
We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord.