Easter message of hope
Døden skal vike for Gudrikets krefter—Death must yield to the powers of the Kingdom of God
Norwegian Seamen’s Church, New York
This quote is from a hymn by Svein Ellingsen. He is perhaps the most important hymn writer in Norway over the last 50 to 60 years. He has written some of the most used hymns in the Church of Norway. Thus, several of his hymns also are used in the Norwegian Seamen’s Churches in the United States.
One of these hymns came to mind as we are approaching Easter. The psalm speaks to this turbulent time we are experiencing with a war in Eastern Europe.
What we have seen, heard, and read about the invasion of Ukraine has made a great impression on us. It may fill us with anxiety and sadness.
This year, we will hear the message of Easter at the same time as one of Europe’s largest countries has been hit by war. I can ask myself if it makes sense to talk about Jesus’ resurrection from a time so long ago when death and the forces of death are ravaging the world.
Thus, I will let the hymn speak, first in Norwegian and then in an unofficial translation into English.
Døden må vike for Gudsrikets krefter!
Du som var død, er vår Herre i dag!
Kristus, du lever og står ved vår side
Her hvor vi rammes av jordlivets slag.
Death must yield to the power of the Kingdom of God!
You who were dead, are our Lord today!
Christ, you live and stand by our side
Here, where we are struck by the battles of life.
The Ukrainian people are truly affected by the battles of life. We must hope and pray that the evil will end and that the Ukrainian people may once again experience peace and freedom. If the core of the Christian faith is true, then the message of Easter has a deep meaning even in this time. Christ can walk by our side.
We know that many Ukrainians have sought refuge in churches during this time. The Christian faith thus also gives meaning to those who are in the middle of the conflict. The gospel of Easter gives us a hope to hold onto in times of trouble and despair. The hymn speaks to us:
Løftet står fast når vår fremtid er truet:
Ingen skal rive oss ut av Guds hånd!
Engang skal Gud få sin skapning tilbake
Verden blir frigjort fra fiendens bånd.
The promise stands firm when our future is threatened:
No one will tear us out of God’s hand!
One day God will get his creature back
The world is freed from the bonds of the enemy.
I find that this psalm shares an important truth with us. Even though darkness may threaten, no one should tear us out of God’s hand. These are words of hope and comfort for those hit by the battles of life. Our thoughts go to those who experience the horrors of war, and the many who flee from it.
At the same time, these are words for everyone that hears them. Christ is alive and will walk by our side. No one will tear us out of God’s hand. In different ways, we will all be affected by the battles of life. Even in such dark times of trouble, the Bible tells us that we are not alone. Christ triumphed over death; victory may be ours.
This is not cheap comfort. None of us needs cheap comfort in the struggles of life. We need hope to hold onto. The Christian hope is that death must give way to the forces and power of the Kingdom of God. The Bible talks about the time to come when “the world will be set free from the bondage of the enemy.” May this victory be visible even in our lives and in our world even when we live, here and now.
This article originally appeared in the April 1, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.