Young Estonian Lutherans gather with Pope Francis

Young people at an ecumenical youth gathering in Estonia’s Lutheran St Charles Church were encouraged by Pope Francis that to live a life based on love. Photo: EELC
Young people at an ecumenical youth gathering in Estonia’s Lutheran St Charles Church were encouraged by Pope Francis that to live a life based on love. Photo: EELC

Lutheran church presents Pope with apple tree

(LWI) - “Let's make it so that love lives.”

With that simple message Pope Francis urged young Estonians to embrace a life of love at an ecumenical youth gathering in the Lutheran St Charles Church, in Tallinn, when he visited the country on Tuesday.

Triin Salmu, the director of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church youth organization and a representative on the Estonian ecumenical youth council, described the gathering as “very sweet and sincere”.

“The Pope mentioned that it would be horrible if one church or community acts in a way that makes the young people feel like they do not belong or the church or community can't offer them anything. One Estonian singer wrote lyrics, "Love is dead, love is gone, love doesn't live here anymore". His Holiness urges us to say no to that. Let's make it so that love does live.”

Pope Francis called the young people to come to Jesus because Jesus gives new breath and light, Salmu said.

Many different denominations took part in the service, including a number of non-Christians.

“There was a lot of music, we were singing together, there were performances from a youth chamber choir and a Russian-speaking Pentecostal church youth band performed. Three people shared their testimonies and there were speeches from different heads of church and the ecumenical church council of Estonia, as well as the Pope’s speech.”

The limitless love for the neighbor

Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Archbishop Viilma told the youth gathering that although Estonian churches were not filled with young people, it did not mean they would not search for God or thirst for the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ as adults.

“When we learn the truths of Christianity, then – besides individualism and personal gain – the general well-being and common good of humanity also become valuable. It is the limitless love for neighbor as proclaimed in Christianity – especially the love for all the abandoned, the outcast, the different, the strange – that arises distinguishably above all teachings.”

Learning to love the neighbour at an early age was the material for building a loving and caring society, material which had been used to found a democratic Europe, a Europe with a human face created after God’s image, he said.

Archbishop Viilma recalled the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation, in Lund, Sweden, on October 31, 2016, and his meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican last December as LWF Central Eastern Europe Vice President.

He presented the Pope with a small apple tree, of an old Estonian variety. The tree will be be planted in the garden of the Apostolic Nunciature in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, where the official Center of Holy See in the Baltic States is located.

The archbishop said the tree symbolised the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Estonia, which represents common living faith and hope in Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther famously once said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”