St. John’s Day greetings from Bishop Tiit Salumäe of The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church to St. John’s Estonian Lutheran Congregation of St. Petersburg (Jaani kirik)
Bishop of The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
Message to St. John’s Estonian Lutheran Congregation of St. Petersburg on St. John’s Day
John the Baptist confessed, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 [ESV])
Praise be to Jesus Christ!
In the Holy Bible we read about John the Baptist. Jesus said, “He is the greatest prophet ever born of a woman.” What is the exceptionality and importance of John? John knew on whose behalf and for whom he was acting. His whole life bore witness to the fact that he was sent by God. He lived by the principle: claim the kingdom of God first and everything else will be given to you apart from the merchandise. John lived in anticipation of the coming Lord, trusting his life unswervingly into His hands. He did not bother himself with the cares of this world such as food, drink and clothing. John had more important things because the kingdom of God was near—the Lord, Judge and Savior was coming.
The people had to be prepared for his coming. John knew his task—he had to testify of the light, so that all would believe through him. He knew that now was not the time or the place for empty and frivolous activities. Preaching and baptism was his life.
Our task today is the same—to be ready for the return of Jesus. The task of the Church is to be John the Baptist today. The Church must not worry about its own success. It must not lose face in order to please the people. We have much to learn from John. He was not afraid to disturb the peace and make people feel uncomfortable. John came to preach the living God. John was also not afraid to go against the prevailing views. His message was—correct your mind, change your thinking. Leave self-centeredness and turn to Christ. This was John’s message and he preached it with faith and conviction as a man with nothing to lose.
Congratulations to the congregation and to all my clerical companions on the 163rd anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of St. John’s Church in St. Petersburg, and I pray for you even now, when I cannot serve the congregation in word and sacrament. Today, dear brothers and sisters, I have a message from St. John to say to you: go and give a good witness with your life.
Haapsalu, June 24, 2022
Tiit Salumäe, EELC bishop
Bishop responsible for the West District and Diaspora
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version). Machine translation edited by Aleksei Zubtsov.