Los Angeles is a city of great love stories—real and fantasy.  Let me tell you one of them.  After all, February 2016 has Valentine’s Day and Sadie Hawkins’ Day—that every 4 year phenomenon of a 29th day Leap Year.  [In days of yore, on Sadie Hawkins’ Day a woman/girl was permitted to ask a man/guy for a date.  Yes, the world has changed.]

Sadie Hawkins Day was first mentioned in the November 15, 1937 "Li'l Abner" daily strip.

Sadie Hawkins Day was first mentioned in the November 15, 1937 “Li’l Abner” daily strip.

Even in our ‘hook-up’ environment, preliminaries usually begin with a “date”.

A word with multiple meanings, “date” in its simplest form is the fruit of the palm tree (taateli).  Date can mean (treffit) –a potentially romantic meeting between two individuals.  The Internet and all of its iterations has redefined “dating”, but for our purposes we will use its simplest, old-fashioned form where a lady or girl was invited by a gentleman or boy for some alone time with an agreed-upon starting hour, on a specific day, for a shared activity such as a meal, a movie, a concert, or a prom. Both parties played by the same rules hoping to make a romantic connection leading to a possible future relationship—or, at least, another date.  Hollywood made millions on movies of the varieties of good, bad, tragedy, and comedy premises.  My date story is of the ‘50s “… and they lived happily ever after” genre.


But, for an added ‘hook’, there is a palm tree involved!

Our beloved City of Angels is known for its palm trees.  Finns have called it missä palmut huivuu –the place where the palm trees sway.  There are many species of palm trees, but the most prevalent here are the tall coconut and date palms.  If you drive around west LA and Santa Monica, you will see these amazing, tall, skinny ‘towers’ bending and swaying with the wind.  Their supernatural structures endure the Santa Ana winds and other environmental issues in seeming defiance of the laws of nature and physics with a fairly small root structure.  Their inner fortitude seems to say: “I belong here.  I can take it.  I am here to stay.”

Each morning, my first view at first light is of a palm tree across the street.  The palm is probably approaching 150 feet tall, rising majestically above all other trees and landscape in the neighborhood.  Let me tell you the love story behind that palm tree.




Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

Many Happy Returns??  Americans have never quite bought into Boxing Day when the rest of the world blatantly returns gifts that “… do not fit” without guilt.  And, to be perfectly honest, I am not anxious for some marketing guru to find the “hook” to get us back into the stores.  I know, the drones are coming –but I really can wait!

The happiest returns of the holiday season—or of any season, always seem to involve a renewed acquaintance, the return of a favor long forgotten, the return to a location with fond memories, or just a chance recollection of times gone by through a serendipity of circumstances for an unknown purpose.  The momentary smile on my face may be the only physical manifestation of a profound experience.  I like that.  It feels good.  Yes, I am Finnish.

As another frantic year draws to a close, our souls recall the beautiful Peace of Finnish Christmas.

024  But

As the distal boom of the old year melds into the crescendo of the year ahead on the ever spinning, ever so busy cycle of life here, recent events have been so fun to look back on with fondness.

A Personal Favorite: Former Finnish President Tarja Halonen’s return to Los Angeles for a major speaking engagement at the World Affairs Council luncheon at Spago was the culmination of this Finn’s ‘season’.  I had been present at her first World Affairs Council speech as Foreign Minister and, now again, as a former Finnish President at the pinnacle of her status as an influential world leader sharing her perspective of times past and present.  I was fortunate to be able to raise a question referencing her answer to one issue raised on her last visit regarding defense of Finland’s border with Russia.  It was fun to recollect on years past from old and new perspectives.


Finnish Concert Mass in Santa Monica on September 7th, 2014

Finnish Concert Mass in Santa Monica on September 7th, 2014 featuring Gospel Star Pekka Simojoki, Music Director Terhi Miikki-Broersma, Concert Pianist Ruusamari Teppo and Pastor Jarmo Tarkki and the. What an absolute treat!

Pekka Simojoen lisäksi workshopissa sekä messussa ovat mukana pastori Jarmo Tarkki, kanttori Terhi Miikki-Broersma ja Dallasin kirkkomuusikko, pianotaitelija Ruusamari Teppo. Jos olet Sibelius-fan, niin tiedoksesi: Ruusamari on Jean Sibeliuksen tyttärentyttärentytär!


The Most Beautiful Christmas Songs – Kauneimmat Joululaulut


The Finnish Lutheran church services in L.A. culminated this year with the Christmas worship on the 8th of December at the beautiful St. Paul’s cathedral in Santa Monica. The theme of the day was The Most Beautiful Christmas Songs – Kauneimmat Joululaulut. Our pastor Jarmo Tarkki gave an uplifting cermon and the talented Terhi Miikki-Broersma from Washington State served as cantor. Finntimes videotaped the service and offers it now to our readers as a Christmas gift. Here it is in its entirety – The Most Beautiful Christmas Songs – enjoy!

Finnish Lutheran church services in L.A. Kauneimmat Joululaulut.



Pastor Jarmo Tarkki

Pastor Jarmo Tarkki

What does Easter mean? What does it mean to you? The answers to these questions are not necessarily the same.

Christian Easter refers to the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning.

Bible’s four Gospels all report the same event, but each in a slightly different way. For example, who were the first Easter morning named guests at the tomb of Jesus?

According to Matthew, Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary”, according to Mark, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, according to Luke, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and according to John, Mary Magdalene.

All four gospels mention that Mary Magdalene was at the tomb on Easter morning. For the other women, the stories are different.
This is, of course, a challenge, the reports are not identical. These texts cannot be harmonized. Is the Bible therefore worthless?

The Lutheran church is not fundamentalist, that is, Lutherans do not believe in the Bible literally. Lutherans take the Bible seriously, but not literally.

The Easter morning reports contain so-called “mythos” material, the stories seem to refer to an important issue without a great deal of concern about the details. Easter message is not in its literal description, but in its meaning.

Easter for Christians is a celebration of life and hope. The physical body of Jesus hung on the cross, Jesus life’s work rose from the dead. Paul describes the church as the body of Christ – it is the resurrection. Good Friday’s immense sorrow is turned into Easter morning’s jubilating joy. Jesus’ disciples left grief behind them and they became bold preachers of the gospel. Jesus is alive, the Roman mighty empire could not defeat him.

What does Easter mean to you?

You are most welcome to Easter worship service

Jarmo Tarkki
Pastor, Finnish Lutheran Church of California and Texas

Come to hear the rest of the Easter message on Sunday, March 24, Incarnation Lutheran Church, Poway, 16889 Espola Rd., Poway, CA. We will begin our worship service at 4 p.m., followed by coffee.



Mitä pääsiäinen merkitsee? Mitä se merkitsee sinulle? Vastaukset näihin eivät välttämättä ole samat.

Kristillinen pääsiäinen viittaa Jeesuksen ylösnousemukseen pääsiäisaamuna.

Raamatun neljä evankeliumia kertovat kaikki samasta tapahtumasta mutta jokainen hiukan eri tavalla. Esimerkiksi, ketkä olivat pääsiäisaamun ensimmäiset nimeltä mainitut vieraat Jeesuksen haudalla?

Matteuksen mukaan Magdalan Maria ja ”se toinen Maria”, Markuksen mukaan Magdalan Maria, Jaakobin äiti Maria ja Salome, Luukkaan mukaan Magdalan Maria, Johanna ja Jaakobin äiti Maria, Johanneksen mukaan Magdalan Maria.

Kaikissa neljässä evankeliumissa kerrotaan Magdalan Marian olleen haudalla pääsiäisaamuna. Muiden naisten osalta kertomukset ovat erilaiset.

Tämä on tietysti haaste, kertomukset eivät ole yhtenevät. Näitä tekstejä ei voi harmonisoida. Onko Raamattu siis arvoton?

Luterilainen kirkko ei ole fundamentalistinen, ts. luterilaiset eivät usko Raamattuun kirjaimellisesti. Luterilaiset ottavat Raamatun vakavasti, eivät kirjaimellisesti.

Ylösnousemuskertomus sisältää ns. ”mythos” –aineistoa, kertomuksilla näytetään viittaavan johonkin tärkeään asiaan ilman suurta huolta yksityiskohdista. Pääsiäisen sanoma ei ole kirjaimellisessa kuvauksessa, vaan sen merkityksessä.

Pääsiäinen on uuden elämän ja toivon juhla. Jeesuksen fyysinen ruumis roikkui ristillä, Jeesuksen elämäntyö nousi kuolleista. Paavali kuvaa kirkkoa Kristuksen ruumiina – siinä on ylösnousemus. Pitkäperjantain suunnaton suru on kääntynyt pääsiäisaamun riemukkaaksi iloksi. Suuren pelon vallassa olleet Jeesuksen oppilaat panivat surun taakseen ja heistä tuli sinnittömän rohkeita evankeliumin julistajia. Jeesus elää, Rooman mahtava valtakunta ei voinut kukistaa häntä.

Mitä pääsiäinen merkitsee sinulle?

Sydämellisesti tervetuloa pääsiäismessuun,
Jarmo Tarkki
Kalifornian ja Teksasin Suomikirkon siirtolaispappi


Tervetuloa sunnuntaina, maaliskuun 24. päivänä suomalaiselle kirkolle, Incarnation Lutheran Church, Poway, 16889 Espola Rd., Poway, CA.  Aloitamme messun klo 16.00, jonka jälkeen kirkkokahvit.