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Last night I had the opportunity to attend a relatively new monthly service in Lauttasaari called Saarimeesu, or Mass of the Island in english.

SaarimessuI’ve been attending for a couple of months now and have really enjoyed it.

One of the markers of the service is that it is more relaxed.

SaarimessuIt’s on a Thursday evening and people come dressed casual.  The whole feel of the service is meant to be welcoming – something I really appreciate after a busy week.

The service is bi-lingual (Finnish-English).

SaarimessuWe sing hymns and songs in both languages…

Saarimessu…hear preaching in one language, but can see sermon notes in the other language on the screen (this alternates month to month – preaching in Finnish one month with notes on the screen and then English the next month with notes in Finnish on the screen).  We hear the liturgy in both languages…

Saarimessu

…and pray in both languages.  As someone who is still just learning Finnish, I feel very comfortable here – I don’t have to know Finnish very well to know what is going on.

The one part of the service that is unique to all other services I have been to is during the prayers of intercession.

SaarimessuDuring this time, everyone in church comes forward to the comfortable pillows at the front of the church.  We all sit on the pillows and gather in groups of two to three people and share our cares, concerns and thanksgivings that we want to offer up to God.  It’s a special time and a time when we truly feel a sense of community.

The service continues with the Eucharistic liturgy and the distribution of communion.  The time of prayer before this is such an important connection between the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist.  It draws everyone forward toward the altar and makes the service, the clergy and the sacrament approachable – not a small feat.  The communion rail doesn’t feel like a barrier to the altar in this service, but rather a welcome place to receive the God we just prayed with.

At the end of the service, we are dismissed and sent out back to the world.  But not before a little fellowship time in the church coffee shop.  Great stuff!!