Merry Christmas...?

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -Amen

Merry Christmas!! I have no idea how many times the greeting “Merry Christmas” has been exchanged among people in the whole world over in the last couple of days. Even though people exchange Christmas greetings in hundreds of different ways and languages, the English phrase “Merry Christmas” must be the most common and popular of all.

The word “Christmas” means “the festival of Christ”, and “merry” is coming from the old English word “miryge”, meaning “pleasing” or “delightful”. So, it is not wrong to say “Delightful Christmas” just like in Icelandic, instead of “Merry Christmas”.

I am not a native speaker of English, and have been feeling a sort of incompatibility, or discomfort, about the word “merry”. I learned that “merry” is an adjective which might be used to describe a scene such as people singing and dancing happily for example.

And if that is so, “Merry Christmas” sounds like we are all enjoying a happy gathering at the feast of Christmas.The original meaning might have been different, but I am rather sure that a considerable number of people use “Merry Christmas” in that sense today.

Christmas has developed, during the last 2000 years, into many different forms. In Iceland, Christmas has added an extra meaning, as an opportunity for family members to get together. In some part in the world, like in Japan, Christmas has developed as a cultural event more than a religious one. The Japanese celebrate Christmas, but without baby Jesus – just with Santa Claus.

The “business minds” of the world have certainly developed their own Christmas, urging you to spend more money around this feast, to consume. And in the process of developing in these different directions, the Christmas greeting “Merry Christmas” has begun to mean, more or less, “Have a happy gathering, singing and dancing!”

I am not going to judge these things. But I want to tell you that at such a time, every church in the world makes an effort trying to maintain the deepest, and most important, meaning of Christmas, remembering that is the saviour is coming to us; to me and to you, each of you.

Four years ago, before Christmas in 2014, I visited two Christian men at their apartment in Reykjavk. They were both asylum seekers, and had spent many years without belonging to any state. They were hopeless, very weighed down in their minds.

Their room was on top of the apartment complex, so we could see the beautiful Christmas lights of the town away in the darkness. They said: “You know..., we have nothing to do with Christmas. We are outside of it.” They were sitting in the darkness: not in their room, but in their minds. Obviously, the illumination of the lights didn’t reach into their hearts.

When I heard their words, I was visiting them to talk about their asylum cases, and was actually not ready to answer them immediately. I knew how hard the situation was for them, and I thought it was understandable that they should feel that way, excluded from Christmas. I got a heavy feeling in my heart, too, after that.

Recently, I heard same kind of talk from some of our people in the Seekers group. They were invited to a Christmas gathering the other day, but they said that they couldn’t really enjoy the opportunity. It was not at all a defect of the gathering itself, but simply because they weren’t in a state to enjoy such a happy time. That is also understandable. They were distracted by fear, and occupied by anxiety about their future. Would be able to stay in Iceland or not?

Here we can see once again the limitations of Christmas when understood as a happy gathering. A happy gathering cannot receive those who are in deep troubles. Even though it invites those troubled people kindly and warmly, they may not be able to enter the circle of laughter and good cheer.

This is not limited with to asylum seekers. Even if we look about us in Icelandic society, there are lots of people who sit in the darkness, haunted by some troubles, anxiety or grief. In the last Christmas period, 1,340 families, 3,500 individuals, got family support from the Church-aid only. There are many families that don’t have enough to eat in Christmas.

There are many families that have lost someone in the family near Christmas time, and they have to have the Christmas dinner with a vacant seat in their dining. There are also many people who struggle with difficult illnesses, not knowing if they will see next Christmas.

When we think about those people, it should not be difficult to imagine that there are many who are not in a state of mind to join the happy circle of a Christmas gathering. Then the question is this: Does Christmas have nothing to do with them?

The answer is of course: “Yes. Christmas has meaning for them, too!” Christmas is the festival celebrating the coming of Christ, his birth on earth. He has come into the world, first of all, to bring light to those who sit in darkness.

Do you remember what Jesus said after he visited Matthew, the tax collector and sinner? He said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (...) I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”(Mt.9:12-13)

In the today’s text from Isaiah, it is said: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”(Isa.9:2) That was why God our Father sent his son into the world, among us, sinners.

This was a revolutionary thing indeed, and it turned everything up-side down. Because of the coming of Christ, those who had been seen as being the lowest in priority when it came to God’s salvation, came to be the highest. The last became the first. And we, gentiles, namely non-Jewish people, were also invited to that salvation by Jesus.

There is this episode in the Acts of the Apostles.

One day, a beggar who had been lame from birth met Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, and asked for some money. Then Peter said him, instead giving him money: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And then “He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”(Acts: 3:6)

He who had to live by begging every day was cured in the name of Jesus, and then he followed Peter and John, jumping and praising God.

This is how meeting Jesus changes our lives. This is how we respond to encountering Jesus. There are many stories of healing in the Gospels, but I took this episode because it expresses the joy of the healed one in the most vivid way. A great joy has been brought to a man who sat in the darkness all through his life, by meeting Jesus.

And the same joy was brought to so many people who also sat in the darkness in their lives. Jesus literally healed the illnesses of the people, but more fundamentally he heals our existence as sinners, our weakness as human persons. One of the manifestations of sin is to lose hope. The coming of Jesus gave hope to the hopeless.

All of this began at the Christmas, the birth of the baby Jesus. It was to cause joy among the people of that time, and it still does today. And because of that, we celebrate Christmas.

So, it is not that Christmas is an occasion of a happy gathering for happy people. If it were just that, those who suffer in the darkness can never join it.

The thing is that Christmas was formed in the midst of those who were sat in the darkness. The joy of Christmas was born there, and spread out from there. The joy of Christmas comes from the people who were burdened in their minds, but saw hope in the coming of Jesus.

I would like you sincerely to remember that Christmas is not only for those who live happily today, but was originally aimed for those who thirst for hope and help in their reality. So it is even today.

But even though we remember this point, and understand that the light of Christmas lights up those who sit in darkness, it is not enough. We need to go one more step forward, where Christmas is about you yourselves, or me myself. Christmas lights up me and you, each of you.

Now forget about “the people” but concentrate on you yourself, please. Christ has come not for the human being, not for all the people, but he has come for you yourself.

I understand you find it difficult to connect yourself to the joy of Christmas if you are stuck in trouble or sorrow. You may find it impossible to identify with the guys whom Jesus healed in the Gospels, because you are still in trouble, and your troubles aren’t gone yet, despite Christmas coming.

I think that’s understandable. Many things are still incomplete, and we are still crying for help. Maybe we need to wait until Jesus’ return, when the kingdom of God will manifest here in this world. And then everything will be completed.

But the important thing for us today is that we have a promise from Jesus. And therefore we have hope in Jesus. The Gospel stories of Jesus’s healing are promises, from him, that we will all be cured from our illness and saved from our troubles when the time comes. These stories are given to us as a message from Jesus.

And the message is very simple: God cares about you. It’s not that God cares about people, but about YOU. Sometimes we need to stop generalizing things. Sometimes we need to make things personal, very personal.

Please take a moment of peace during this time of year, and think about it. This Christmas is given for you. Jesus is coming for you. Because God cares about you. This is the very point of Christmas.

When you catch meaning and hold it tight in yourself, then I believe that the greeting “Merry Christmas” will sound a bit different in your heart. It is not a notice of a happy gathering, but an expression of joy, knowing God cares about you and promises you his grace.

In that meaning, once again, Merry Christmas.

The Grace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus -Amen

(flutt jlamessu Aljlega Safnaarins Breiholtskirkju annan jla 2018)

“Safe Passage” vs dehumanization

Hello, dear people. Thank you for this opportunity. I am not an expert on the refugee matter in Europe. I would like, however, as a street priest, to witness from the reality that I am facing regarding the situation of asylum-seeking people here in Iceland.

As you know, generally speaking, asylum-seekers and refugees are often dehumanized. When we see photos of boats filled with refugees, when we watch videos in which thousands of refugees are walking holding small children, to borders, who can say that kind of situation is humane?

I have friends who are asylum seekers, and many of them have been living in Europe for 8, 9, or even longer than 10 years without sufficient civil rights. Is this situation humane?

Two Syrian refugees in Iceland are now about being deported to Bulgaria, just because they have come here through Bulgaria. Is this decision humane?

No, not at all. They are dehumanized. Maybe, this dehumanization of asylum seekers is not an accident. Dehumanization is a method we use when we don’t want to confront violations against humanity and want to leave the problem as it is.

Last Wednesday, a couple from Africa got negative answers from the appeal committee. They were in Italy and therefore Dublin-refugees. They came to Italy across the Mediterranean Sea on a boat as we see in the news. The husband lost his brother in the sea.

The ministry of the Interior gave a guideline last December, regarding sending refugees back to Italy. It says: “the living conditions for refugees in Italy are not good enough for delicate people such as children or ill people.” (Personally I insist to stop sending people back to Italy totally. This is the ministry’s view.)

Of the couple referred to the husband has infection in the lungs with very much pain and he has been on medication for nine months now. The decision from the appeal committee says, though: “The husband is a 29 years old man in good health, so his condition does not make him an ill person”.

The wife is expecting a baby in 5 months. She has miscarried three times before, including once when she arrived here. The decision from the appeal committee says: “The wife is in a delicate condition. Nevertheless she had got permission to stay in Italy, thus she has access to the health system there in Italy. It is, therefore, all right to send her back there”. Oh, she doesn’t have even a house to stay in Italy.

This is one of manifesting forms of the dehumanization that the asylum-seeking people are facing today, here in Iceland. Whatever the situation of each individual is, the authority has already decided to say “NO!”

We need to break down this dehumanization of asylum seeking people, if we want to insist The Safe Passage and make it come true. The attitudes that the Directorate of Immigration and the appeal committee are showing are not the consensus of the Icelandic people, I believe.

So, I ask you, dear people, to watch the things we are supposed to watch, hear voices that we are supposed to hear in order to recognize what is happening in our society, and finally to make an action that we are supposed to make.

Otherwise, we cannot defeat the cold blood evil of dehumanization. Let’s make The Safe Passage come true, by humanizing the dehumanized.
Thank you.

- At the gathering "Safe Passage Now" at the Lkjatorg, February 27th 2016-

(Prestur innflytjenda)

Veitum Eze Okafor dvalarleyfi slandi!

Petition:Veitum Eze Okafor dvalarleyfi slandi!

Eze Okafor (32) er fr Ngeru. Heimaorp hans er innan stjrnarsvis Boko Haram og var brir Eze myrtur ras hryjuverkasamtakanna. Eze var lka stunginn me hnfi og tekinn til fanga. Hann var neyddur til ess a vinna fyrir Boko Haram en tkst sem betur fer a flja r hndum eirra.

Hann fli Ngeru og stti um hli Svj ri 2011 en fkk synjun. Svj var fjldi flttamanna a mikill a Eze fannst a umskn sn hefi ekki fengi sanngjarna umfjllun og v fli hann fr Svj.

Hann kom til slands aprl 2012 og stti um hli hr. tlendingastofnun neitai a taka mli til efnislegrar skounar vegna Dyflinnarreglugerarinnar og Innanrkisruneyti stafesti rskur tlendingastofnunar jl 2014. Meira en tv r hfu egar lii fr v hann stti um hli hr en samkvmt lgum er a of langur bitmi til brottvsunar grundvelli Dyflinnarreglugerarinnar.

Eze kri mli til slenskra dmstla. aprl essu ri verur Eze binn a vera hr fjgur r. mean hefur Eze alagast slensku samflagi og eignast marga vini. Hann fkk kennitlu sastlii haust og byrjai a vinna. Eze hefur egar byggt upp srstk tengsl vi slenska j.

Engu a sur tilkynnti tlendingastofnun Eze um a honum yri vsa r landi ann 28. janar 2016. Brottvsuninni hefur ekki enn veri framfylgt en rlg hans liggja blsnni vissu.

Hvers vegna verur frnarlamb voalegs ofbeldis Boko Haram a jst ennan htt slandi?

Til hvers er klausan ,,dvalarleyfi grundvelli mannarsjnarmia“ tlendingalgum ef hn fellur ekki a tilfelli Eze?

Hvers vegna vilja yfirvld slenska rkisins vera svona hr vi ennan saklausa einstakling?

Vi skorum hr Innanrkisrherra a afturkalla synjun um efnislega mefer hlisumskn Eze Okafor og veiti honum dvalarleyfi n tafar.

1. febrar 2016, Reykjavk

Stuningshpur vi Eze Okafor

Helga Tryggvadttir
Gubjrg Runlfsdttir
Toshiki Toma
Kristn runn Tmasdttir

slenskukennsla ea ggun?

„a skiptir grarlega miklu mli fyrir okkur a a takist vel a alaga flki a slensku samflagi. slenskukennsla er lykilatrii v efni,“ sagi lf Nordal innanrkisrherra varandi vntanlega mttku flttamanna fr Srlandi frttaskringu Morgunblasins ann 19. nvember sastliinn.
Fullyringunni „slenska er lykilatrii algunar a slenska samflaginu“ hefur veri hvegum hf, ekki aeins egar um mttku flttamanna hefur veri a ra, heldur vallt egar um hefur veri a ra innflytjendaml almennt sustu tvo ratugi.

g er sammla v a kunntta innflytjenda slensku tungumli skiptir miklu mli, bi fyrir sjlfa og einnig slenskt samflag. g hvet ara innflytjendur til a lra slensku vel og sjlfur vil g lra hana betur. g hef veri a lra slensku og hef enn ekki n fullum tkum henni, etta er raun viverkefni.

San fyrir 16-17 rum hef g teki tt umru um slenska tungumli og innflytjendur og g sagi nokkrum sinnum opinberlega a slenskan gti veri kgunartki fyrir innflytjendur hrlendis.

kringum aldamtin sustu var t.d. virk hreintungustefna hj RV og gestir af erlendu bergi brotnir voru ekki velkomnir tvarps- ea sjnvarpstt nema a eir vru mjg gir slensku. Mr sndist a slendingar hefu meiri huga v hvernig g talai slensku en v sem g segi t.d. predikun. Mr fannst a olandi.

„Ef vilt ba slandi, talau slensku!“ etta var sagt jafnvel vi nkomna innflytjendur. Margir virast mynda sr a hgt s a tileinka sr slensku innan rs. Og egar innflytjandi gat ekki tj sig almennilega slensku, frusu samskptin ar.

En margt hefur breyst varandi vihorf slendinga til slensku sem innflytjendur tala, jkva tt a mnu mati.

Nokkrir ttir hj RV reyna a bja gestum af erlendum uppruna dag til sn og sem betur fer virast margir slendingar hafa vanist eirri slensku sem innflytjendur tala og bregast ekki skjtt vi og skella framan vikomandi einhverju eins og „Talau slensku!“ a innflytjandi geti ekki tala ga slensku.

g met essar jkvu breytingar mikils. a gti svo margt breyst til hins betra ef flki samflaginu sndi v betri skilning a langflestir eru a reyna sitt, hvert svo sem upprunalegt tunguml eirra er. Og v langar mig a tala meira um mlefni sem varar slenskt ml og innflytjendur.

slenska okkar innflytjenda er svo oft leirtt, hvort sem um talml er a ra vi msar hversdagslegar astur, Facebook, kaffitma vinnunni, verslunum, dmin eru endalaus. Eftir v sem g best veit, gera slendingar etta gum tilgangi og viljinn sem a baki er er gtur en flestum tilvikum er um sjlfskipaa kennara a ra.

G afskiptasemi ea ggun?

Engu a sur ver g a segja etta; vinsamlegast htti gefa okkur „slenskukennslu“ frtma okkar ea prvatplssi eins og Facebook. „Kennsla“ af essu tagi dregur r rfinni til a tj mig og a lklegast vi fleiri innflytjendur.
Ef vi erum a bija einhvern um a leirtta slenskuna okkar, af msum stum, ea ef kennari, mentor ea ninn vinur leirttir okkur, er a lagi.

a sem flir mig fr a segja eitthva, t.d. vi einhvern sem g ekki lti en hitti t.d. frstundum er egar vikomandi ltur essi or falla: „ tti a segja ann hluta svona ... “ ea leirttir frslu mna Facebook athugasemdum ea skilaboum, a g s ekki a bija um a. a virkilega pirrar mig.

g vil forast misskilning. g vil lra slensku betur en g kann n egar. Mr finnst margir innflytjendur vilji a lka og gera raun. En a tekur tma a lra slensku og a arf tma til a nota hana n hindrunar. a er ekki vieigandi a f „kennslu“ fr kunnugum slendingum vi mis mismunandi og oftast vieigandi tkifri. Vi getum bei um hana ef vi viljum f r.

rtt fyrir gan vilja essara sjlfskipuu kennara slensku gerir s kennsla ekkert anna en a draga innflytjendur niur og er bara virkilega reytandi. a kmi mr ekki vart ef innflytjandi htti a tala slensku ea skrifa eftir a hafa fengi vntar og stundum stanslausar leirttingar slenskunni sinni.

ess vegna nota g frekar sterkt or: of mikil afskiptasemi af v slenska mli sem innflytjendur af svo mrgum jernum nota leiir til ggunar, tt hn byggist gfsi. Hvert tunguml getur grundvelli tungumls heimavelli ori kgunartki gagnvart flki sem hefur anna tunguml sem murml. Vi megum ekki gleyma v.

g vona a sem flestir slendingar skilji a sem g hef veri a ra hr, styji okkur innflytjendur vi a lra ga slensku, n of mikillar afskiptasemi, og haldi gagnkvm og vingjarnleg samskipti.

(Innflytjandi slandi)

Living tradistion, sleeping tradition

*This is a sermon that was hold in the opning service of Scandinavian conference "Living Word, living tradition" at the Hteigs-church on 10th of November 2015.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -Amen.

I am immigrant from Japan and before I moved to Iceland, I was ordained in the Japanese Lutheran Church. Japanese protestant churches have only 150 years’ history at most. They are young and therefore we don’t have very strong traditions as Christian churches yet.

When I moved to Iceland about 20 years ago, I got a sort of culture shock by seeing the differences between the Icelandic church and the Japanese church. I felt that the Icelandic church had a very rich tradition as the church of Christian nation with 1.000 years’ history.

Tradition is, however, not a holy thing. Sometimes we try to add a new tradition to the “traditional tradition” or we need to shake and wake up some sleeping tradition. I began to serve as pastor for immigrants officially in 1996. The immigration issue was a rather new phenomenon in Iceland at that time, and I felt that I was always apart from the Icelandic tradition, both in society and in the church environment.

The word “tradition” sounds perhaps too ambiguous in this context. So let’s say that “tradition” means here some sorts of ceremony, feast or ritual for particular topics, such as immigrants or gay people, that is being considered as a part of the nation’s culture.

20 years have passed and I think Icelandic society has begun to form pieces of new traditions regarding immigrants and cultural diversity, such as the Multi-cultural day of Reykjavik and the Religious Forum in Iceland.

In recent years I have spent considerably with asylum seekers in Iceland in my work. The number of asylum seekers has been increasing here in Iceland, though the absolute number is much smaller than the other European countries. Until only few years ago, the Icelandic church had nothing to do with the asylum seekers’ issue, honestly speaking.

Fortunately, now the whole church is more aware of the necessity of a presence of the church in the asylum seekers’ issue and also in the reception of quota refugees, and today I have good colleagues and co-workers to work together.

But more or less, we all have to admit that issues regarding asylum seekers or refugees are not deeply rooted in the Icelandic church. We feel those issues are new topics for the Icelandic church and therefore asylum seeking people are out side of the tradition of the church. Indeed I cannot point out any traditional service or custom in the church for them.

This is actually an interesting phenomenon and I think it deserves to be thought through why those issues have not rooted in the church tradition, for there are numerous stories that address seeking for asylum and refuge in the Bible.

Adam and Eve escaped from the eyes of Father God and hid themselves behind trees. The first refugees of mankind! The story of Noah’s ark is a story of refuge from natural disasters. Jacob, the son of Isaac, ran away from his father in law, Laban. The prophet Elijah took refuge in the Mt. Horeb. In the Psalms, the word “shelter” is used more than 40 times.

There are many other stories about asylum seeking in the Old Testament. So at least in the Old Testament, seeking asylum is one of the important themes and of course, we may not forget the Exodus. The Exodus was the great escape.

As we know, “Shema Israel” is the daily prayer of the Jewish people and also confession of their faith in God. By praying Shema, Jews are supposed to remind themselves of: “the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”(Deu. 6:12)

The Exodus is actually the foundation of the faith of the Jewish people and their existence. God lead them to the safe land and they must not forget that history. It is therefore the core of the Jewish traditions to say Shema twice every day.

We can see another important tradition of the Jewish people to remember the event of Exodus in the feast of the passover. The passover feast has been celebrated in order to remember the Exodus for centuries. “You shall observe this rite as an ordinance for you and for your sons for ever.” (Ex. 12:24)
Therefore for the Jewish people, it is really the middle of their faith, ritual and tradition to have an experience of being refugees.

How we Christians understand the foundation of Judaism might not be unanimous, but still we cannot deny that their tradition has become a part of our tradition, too. The Passover feast is when Jesus and his disciples had the last supper, an essential part of the Holy week and a special occasion for us Christians, too.

Besides, we have our own tradition that regards asylum seeking. That is the escape of the Holy family, Joseph, Maria and the new born baby Jesus, to Egypt. This episode is actually very important and has a symbolic meaning that huge changes would be brought to the world by the birth of Jesus. Anyhow, the land of Egypt to which Jews are referring every day in Shema as “the house of bondage” has now changed into a shelter for the Holy family.

And we hear and listen to this story every year at Christmas time. So we cannot deny that to seek for asylum is also in the very middle of the tradition of our church.

So my question is why then do we feel as if asylum seekers and refugees are out side of the churchly tradition, ritual or service?
Churches on the continent must be providing many services for asylum seekers. But are these services considered as a part of the main activity of the churches? Or are they considered as a sort of social welfare activities taken care of by the churches, just like church aid?

In this context, I would like to point out that here is an example of a tradition that used to be living and have influence on our religious life, but has fallen sleep.

I am not highly educated theologian, so I entrust you this matter as material for discussion and speculation. I would like, however, as a street pastor, to witness from the reality that I am facing.

That is asylum seekers and refugees are often dehumanized. When we see photos of boats filled with refugees, when we watch videos in which thousand refugees are walking, holding small children, to borders, who can say that kind of situation is humane? I have friends who are asylum seekers, and many of them have been living in Europe for 8, 9, or even longer than 10 years without sufficient civil rights. Is this situation humane?

No, not at all. They are dehumanized. And maybe, this dehumanization of asylum seekers is not only a result that society has brought to them, but also the reason why they are being kept dehumanized for a long time. Dehumanization is a method we use when we don’t want to confront violations against humanity and want to leave the problem as it is.

We need to break down this dehumanization of asylum seeking people. And I do believe that that is one of the important roles for us, Christian churches, and a part of our essential purpose.

I went to church for the first time when I was 19 years old and got baptized when I was 21. I was the only Christian in my entire family. I was seeking for purpose of my life, and from the beginning it was easy for me to believe in an almighty God who is the center of the universe.

But I found it so difficult and ridiculous to believe that the Son of God became a human person. How could it be possible? I couldn’t understand it. 35 years have passed, and now Jesus Christ is “the Thing” in my religious life. I noticed at some stage, that I could communicate with God because of Jesus. Without him, how could I try to approach God and his will? Maybe I could feel the presence of God when I am in magnificent nature. I am sure that you would feel the same.

But that feeling doesn’t teach me how to understand the sins of man, the meaning of forgiveness or the importance of love among us sinners.
Through Jesus, through his teachings and behavior, we can learn, presume and be assured by what the will of God is, what his expectations to us are. Namely we are allowed to have communication with God on the level of our personalities.

“(….) the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (….) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1: 1, 14) What a miracle it is. What a grace it is. Divinity became a human in order to meet us and give us salvation.

If we are thankful for this miracle and grace, if we truly believe that our life has been changed by meeting Jesus, how can we leave them alone, who have been dehumanized by their situation, by the negligence of our society or by the obvious prejudice of it?

Jesus has become a man, in order to meet us and release us from the sins, namely to humanize us in its true meaning. And is Jesus not visiting every single person in society to do the same to that person? If so, it is the traditional core mission of our church to humanize the dehumanized around us. Jesus is working for it. So, are we with him, or what?

Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Amen

PETTITION: Veitum Srlenskri fjlskyldu fltta dvalaleyfi slandi

Kra flk slandi.

g veit a margs konar ,,pettition" er gangi, en g get ekki anna en bei ykkur a taka tt essu nna.

Veitum Srlenskri fjlskyldu fltta dvalaleyfi slandi

A sjlfsgu bi g ykkur a skrifa undir, og samtmis vinsamlegast deili essu og sendi til vina ykkar. etta er um lf fjgurra manna fjlskyldu, ..m. 3 ra og 4 ra stelpur.

Me fyrirfram kkum.

Httum a nota Dyflinnarreglugerina

Now it is time to abolish the Dublin-system. It has been making the victimes of violence and dictatorship "victims again" here in Europe.
Please read and join the petition.
This regards also my friends, PLEASE!!

Many thanks to "No more deportations" group for the initiative of the petition.

Httum a nota Dyflinnarreglugerina

Reflections on two decades - Mother tongue education

Dear participants, guests, my colleagues, friends and comrades, welcome to “The treasure of languages-Conference on practical ways of improving mother tongue learning in homes, schools and leisure”. With commission of the board of the Murml, I would like to welcome you to this educative and meaningful gathering.

I would like to express our feeling of gratitude and gladness to our special guest, Dr. Deirdre Kirwan, principal of Scoil Bhrde Cailn, from Dublin, Ireland. Thank you for coming, Dr. Kirwan.

I would like also to thank to the board members of Murml for providing us such a good opportunity for deepening our understanding of multi-linguistic education and developing our teaching skills, as well as the dedicating activities on the daily base. The association Murml is a sort of “Mother organization” for mother-tongue education, and today 24 language groups are joining Muml. This is a really remarkable development, I would say. Many well educated people are now working in the Murml and are trying to share their knowledge and educational skills to the other members, its a fantastic thing, isn’t is?

Murml was officially organized and legally registered in 2001. I was one of the founders of Muml, but Murml at that time was far different from what it is today. There were 5 language groups, English, Russian, Lithuanian, Polish and Japanese. We were also closely working with the Vietnamese group.

The mother-tongue education itself began to be organized around the year 1993 with the cooperation and support of the Reykjavik municipality.But the support of the city to the mother tongue education was to be stopped at the end of 2001, so we, founders, hurried to organize the association Murml formally.Because we needed to apply for grunts here and there, but to do so there had to be a registered association.

I myself have been involved in the Japanese group, and our group will celebrate its 20th anniversary in the coming school year. I was there from the beginning, but I don’t remember well if it was the autumn of 1995 or the winter of 1996. I have two kids, and they were then 5 years old and 2 years old, and now they will be soon 25 and 22.They have already graduated from the Japanese mother-tongue group, and I am half-retired from the group, too.

So two decades is surely some period of time. I have been involved in the Japanese group without interruption through those two decades, so I think it is my privilege that I can compare then and now.

There are many things that have changed, but some things have not. Some things were topics of the discussion twenty years ago, and they are still topics for discussion today. Some things were important and worth paying attention to twenty years ago, and are still so.

I would like to point out only three points to remind you of their importance. But they are not about the theory of multi-linguistic education or teaching skills. They are more about the role of a parent. I am not educated in the field of multi-linguistic education. I am just a father of two children, and that is where I have been standing so far. Please understand this beforehand.

The first point is whether the mother-tongue teaching belongs to home education or to school education. This is a classic discussion. This happened really in some mother-tongue teaching groups, but numbers of parents misunderstood that if they took kids to their mother-tongue teaching groups, then the group would take care of everything and the kids didn’t have to do any home study. It became clear in some cases that the parents did not use the mother tongue at home even in communicating with the child.

In the Japanese group there wasn’t such an extreme example, since we didn’t have any educated teacher in the beginning, and we parents had a kind of agreement that we ourselves would teach our children, so there was no clear border between the home study and the education in the group. Yet there has been a constant misunderstanding, as if the mother-tongue education could be completed at the mother-tongue group. Of course, our weekly education for a couple of hours cannot complete anything, but it is an aid to stimulate the mother-tongue teaching at home.

This point is really matter of course for those who used to teach children their mother tongue, but is not necessarily taken for granted for those who have just stepped into mother-tongue teaching. It also happens that even though the parents are aware of the importance of home study, as a fact, they have fallen into counting only on the mother-tongue group unconsciously.

The second point is misjudgment or exceeding decision by parents that multi-linguistic education is too much of a burden for their children. Surely it is work to educate our children our mother-tongue in a situation where the language is not a common language. But no education is easy to obtain generally and whatever the children are supposed to learn, they have to make an appropriate effort.

We need to consider three things in this kind of misjudgment. First, the capacity of a child in leaning is much bigger than we think usually. Very often, we misunderstand that what we cannot do is difficult for our children, too. But it’s not true. I am not good at dancing, I don’t even dare to dance, but my son dances very well. My daughter is now reading books in English that I would never take in my hands. “This must be a burden for my child”: parents should see thoroughly the condition of their child before they come to such a conclusion.

Secondly, the burden which parents recognize as a burden might not be the child’s, but it could be a burden for the parents themselves. We all know it’s a considerable task to teach our kids our mother-tongue. I know it’s an especially heavy task for a parent when the parent is new in this country and is learning Icelandic for himself. This is a wall. I cannot say any easy words about this wall. We need to go over it.

If I may tell from my experience, it’s difficult to learn Icelandic and it takes a long time usually for us, but the really hard time in learning Icelandic is not endless. It’s just a certain period. Meanwhile our child is growing every day and it cannot wait for us making free time. So for a certain period, we should decide to do both: learn Icelandic and teach our kid the mother-tongue. We have to do it, and we can do it.

Thirdly, it depends also on the priority of the education for our children if the mother-tongue learning becomes a burden for them or not. In Iceland, it’s common that children learn many things at the same time: Ballet, painting, piano, violin, swimming, football, karate and so on.

And I think it’s a positive thing to give them all sorts of possibilities. In Japan, we don’t do this, and I feel sorry for that. I never got any music lessons when I was a kid. One of my dreams is to play the saxophone, I wish I could have had the basic lessons for it when I was little.

Anyway, the point is, if mother-tongue learning is just one of those subjects or if it has higher priority among them. Of course we should respect our children’s wishes fairly, but at the same time we should be aware that our children are not really capable yet to choose what is important for them. We are supposed to help them. It’s the responsibility of us parents.

The third point that I want to remind you of its importance is how we work in this society. As I have mentioned before, I weigh very highly the importance of home study of our mother-tongue in our family life. But nevertheless the mother-tongue education is not only a private matter of immigrants in their home. It is at the same time a social matter of Iceland because the existence of bilingual or multilingual citizens profits the whole society.

Counting from twenty years ago, mother-tongue education was considered as a private matter of immigrants by the education authorities in Iceland, and also generally in the society. Things have gotten much better today, as it can be seen for example in that Murml got the Social award of Frttablai last year. But I don’t think it still enough.

One of the particularities of this country is, in my opinion, that society doesn’t know one thing and that is “to cultivate”, to grow up something. Instead they want to get only the result, the harvest.

Last years, my children have got many requests to make some assistance in Icelandic business such as RV or St 2 because of their fluency in both Japanese and Icelandic. They wanted to use the ability of my kids when they needed it. But they never thought from where their ability came. They might have thought that it was enough to pay my kids a small pocket money, but I did not think it was enough.

When I think about this “opportunism” in Icelandic society in general, I get angry. If they want to use the ability of bilingual or multilingual citizens, they should support us more. I don’t think anyone can deny the benefit that this society will get from our children who can manage two or more languages. Look, to which direction this society is heading. Global business, tourism and multiculturalism, can Iceland stand without those?

Mother- tongue education is not only about the language, but also it is about our culture. That’s the different point about mother– tongue education from the Icelandic student’s learning foreign language in a college. The society should recognize better the importance of mother-tongue education and support it.
We need to continue to appeal for this.

I have mentioned three points, that were important twenty years ago, and are still important for us. The importance of home study, the importance of not to misjudge the capability of our children and the importance of getting better understanding in the society regarding mother- tongue education. I am aware that you know these things well already. My apology if you got bored. Nevertheless it is worth repeating, I think.

Lastly I want to add one word and I think this is my mission word for today. Again I repeat a thing you already know well. My mission word for today is: “Continue, and never give up”.

I remember when my first child, my son, was so small and he had not begun to speak words. I was talking to him in Japanese every day, and got no response from him. It was as if I was talking to a wall and I felt like I was a stupid man who was making effort for nothing. So I was so happy when he uttered a word in Japanese “murasaki”, that meant purple color when he saw purple flowers in our garden. Ever since I use only Japanese in talking with my son, and also with my daughter.

My daughter speaks even better Japanese than my son. Actually she speaks Japanese quite the same as ordinary Japanese people. But she has never lived in Japan. She has visited Japan only in summer vacations that are only three to four weeks at most. I want to boast of my children, but more than that, I want you to see my daughter as an example of what mother-tongue teaching can achieve, even without living in the home country.

Our mother-tongue teaching is the mutual work of parents, kids and surrounding people, like the association Murml. With mutual help and encouragement, we can do it. So please “Continue”, and “Never give up”.

Thank you very much for your patience to listen to me, half retired man.
God bless you, your kids and Murml.

-Welcoming speech at the conference of Murml “The treasure of languages”
at the Geruberg,21st of August 2015-

r dagbk prests innflytjenda - Dymbilvika

Enn rennur upp htartmabil. Fermingarmessa og plmasunnudagsmessa hverri kirkju og brum koma pskar. En rtt eins og jlunum, er g langt burtu fr hinu stra svii htarviburanna. g funda pnulti ara presta sem stjrna essum htum. En hins vegar hef g ng minni knnu og a sem meira er, g nt ess miki!

Undanfarna daga hefur asto vi flttaflk aukist bersnilega ar sem hvorki Reykjavkurborg n Reykjanesbr hefur geta teki mti fleira flttaflki og tlendingastofnun verur a astoa a eirra hversdagslfi. En stofnunin er hins vegar ekki faglegur aili umnnun flks og um stundarsakir var algjrt kaos. Sfellt koma upp vntar arfir. "Mig vantar rakvl“: sagi maur. Hann tti ekki krnu. Rakvl? Er a nokkur rakvl leigu bnum?foot-in-mouth

kvenu tmabili gat flk einu gistiheimilinu ekki nota vottavlina ar. "Vi erum smu ftunum lengur en viku.“ v bau g flki a koma Neskirkju og vo ar. a tk fjra tma a vo og urrka ft og nrft riggja manns. g kynntist v vnt vottaherberginu kjallara safnaarheimilis Neskirkju!

Heimskn flks fltta er orin hversdagslegur hlutur lfi mnu, asto vi einfalda hluti eins og innkaup matar, a kynna eim fyrir borg og b og fleira. sustu viku var slys og maur var fluttur sptala me sjkrabl. Bi kallai g sjkrablinn og eins vitjai g sjklingsins hverjum degi.

Auk ess byrjai g fr og me janar „taksverkefni“ sem er a fylgjast me flttaflki messu. a er of erfitt fyrir a a skja messu sem er slensku, tungumli er hindrun. v ski g a og fer me v, fyrir hdegi og einnig eftir hdegi, stundum Reykjanesb. etta er sem sagt eins konar "fylgdarjnusta.“

ur fannst mr skrti egar g s prest sem var alltaf prestskyrtu. Sjlfur var g aeins henni egar g annaist athfn kirkju. En nna er g prestsskyrtu alla daga – fr mnudegi til sunnudags. Get ekki fari r henni. A sjlfsgu eru margir meal flttaflks sem ekki eru kristnir og v tek g stundum af "kragann“ r hlsinum til a minnka "kristilegt einkenni“. jnustan hj mr er fyrir alla sem ska eftir henni n tillitis til ess hvaa tr vikomandi ahyllast.

Samt fel g ekki a g s prestur kirkjunnar. Mr finnst heiarlegt a fela hver maur er raun. N kallar margt flk mig "Father Toshiki“. a er heiurstitill finnst mr. g kann vel vi hann. "Fylgdarjnusta Father Toshiki“!innocent

jnustan sem g er nna lkist frekar djknajnustu en prestsjnustu. sleningar eru hrifnir a skipta hlutverki meal sn: prestsjnustu, djknajnustu ea starfsemi trboa. En slk hlutverkaskipting er aeins tknileg en ekki kjarnaml jnustunnar a mnu mati. Japan ar sem g var skrur, var etta rennt smu einni prestsjnustu. Heilaga renningin.

A sjlfsgu hlusta g einnig sgu flks um fltta og geri mislegt sem hgt a gera til a styja vi flki. a er j talsver mikil vinna raun. Samt gtu i haldi: "Allt of miki sem er ekki tengt fagnaareindi“.

En fylgdarjnustan er mikilvg, af v a hn astoar flk hversdagslfi eirra ea brtur a upp. A vo votta, fara saman innkaupaleiangur ea a vaska upp eftir matinn, allt er etta hluti af hversdagslfi flks.

Og ekki er hgt a skilja bnir fr hversdagslfinu. Me v a deila hversdagslegum hlutum hvert me ru, eykst samstaa bnargjr efalaust miki. egar bnir vera kraftmeiri, finn g ar metanlega n Gus og nrveru Jes.

a er kvein og skr lna dregin milli flks fltta og mn. Flki er fltta, en ekki g. essi munur er raun svo str a g get ekki bra a sjlfur. En Jess getur. a er Jess sem kemur veg fyrir a jnustan mn veri "vorkunn blessas manns“. Vi erum, rtt fyrir allt, a iggja ll fylgdarjnustu Jes.

Birtingarform prestsjnusta og kirkjujnustu er margvsleg og fjlbreytt. En r allar spretta t r smu rtinni, sem er krleiki Jes Krists og hans krossinn.

Gleilega pska! Drottinn er upprisinn og hann er ekki grfInni. Og vi erum heldur ekki!smile

,,Hv ofskir mig?"

Duldir fordmar

Komi i sl og blessu. Toshiki Toma heiti g og mig langar a akka flki undirbningshpi mlingsins innilega fyrir etta tkifri dag. g hef starfa sem prestur innflytjenda sustu tuttugu r og starfi mnu hef g oft urft a fjalla um fordma sem innflytjendur hafa mtt hrlendis. Flk sem ekkir vel mlefni innflytjenda slandi bendir allt a slandi rkja duldir fordmar egar kemur a innflytjendum.

Ofbeldisfullt rs tlending er t.d. flokka snilega fordma, en duldir fordmar eru yfirleitt snilegir. Dmi slka fordma eru egar afgreislumaur b hunsar viskiptavin af erlendum uppruna og snir ekki vilja til a afgreia hann en tekur mti rum viskiptavini undan. Duldir fordmar snast um framkomu ar sem vihorfi er nirandi n ess a oralag ea framkoma s fordmafull.

Duldir fordmar geta einnig ori hluti af samflagskerfinu. Fyrir tu rum samykkti Alingi frumvarp sem kvaddi um a: Maki slendinga, sambarmaki ea samvistarmaki sem er yngri en 24 ra, getur ekki fengi dvalarleyfi eirri forsendu a vera nnasti astandandi slendinga.

Tilgangurinn var a hefta fjlda tlenskra maka slendinga landinu. Nokkrir hagsmunaailar innflytjenda tku eftir fordmum og mismunun sem flust frumvarpinu og bentu au, og au uru ekki lengur ,,snileg“ en etta var dmi hvernig fordmar gtu ori a hluta samflagskerfisins.

annig birtast duldir fordmar framkomu einstaklings og einnig komast eir inn opinbera samflagskerfi. Og a mnu mati mta umskjendur um aljlega vernd, ea flk fltta, essum dulda fordmum daglega. etta mun koma ljs egar vi skoum hversdagslf eirra.


Umskjendur um aljlega vernd eru ekki einsleitur hpur og vi urfum alltaf a hafa a huga, en samt eiga eir eitt sameiginlegt; a er a skja um vernd hrlendis. eiga umskjendurnir a f skrningarskrteini.

Skrningarskrteini er einu ggn sem umskjendurnir geta nota til a aukenna sig, ar sem eir vera a afhenda yfirvldum ll skjl sem eir hafa me sr. Lklega hugsum vi ekki um a venjulega, en skrteinisleysi er mjg httlegt.

Fyrir nokkrum rum lendi maur sem var a skja um aljlega vernd blslysi og a urfti a flytja hann sptala, en gangandi flk stanum gat ekki fundi hver vikomandi maur var og mjg hikandi a kalla sjkrabl. Sem betur fer var etta ekki alvarlegt tilfelli ea lfshttulegt, en kerfi arf a lra af reynslu sinni.

Regluger tlendingalaganna kveur : a ,,Umskjandi um hli (….) skulu eins fljtt … f hendur skrningarskrteini hlisumskjanda…“ 92. grein. Engu a sur er stareynd s a sumir hafa skrteini og arir ekki. Nstum enginn Fit er me skrningarskrteini.

g spuri nokkra sem voru me skrteini hvenig eir hefu fengi a. sgu eir vi mig: ,,g kvartai yfir skrteinisleysi flagsjnustunni. hafi starfsmaur samband vi tlendingarstofnun, og san var mr sagt a fara tlendingarstofnun til a taka mynd af mr. g fr og eftir nokkra daga kom skrteini til mn“.

Sem s, a er ekki upplst almennilega hvernig umskjendur um aljlega vernd geta fengi skrningarskrteini. Reglugerin er til. En a sem hn kveur er ekki framkvmt rttan htt, rtt fyrir trekaa athugasemd fr okkur hugaflki um mlefni undanfarin r. En af hverju? etta er dmi um ,,virkt vihorf“ jnustuveitanda.


Eins og i ekki, mega nokkrir umskjendur um aljlega vernd ra sig vinnu. Mr finnst eir sem mega starfa heppnir mia vi sem mega ekki vinna.

En hr langar mig a gera smathugasemd. urfum vi ekki a spyrja okkur hvort reglan, sem snst um a hver m vinna hr og hver ekki, s sanngjrn ea sanngjrn? eir sem eru tengdir Dyflinnarreglunni mega ekki vinna. En samt hafa nokkrir af eim veri hr lengur en eitt r ea jafnvel tv r. arf reglan ekki a vera sveigjanlegri?

En hva sem ru lur kemur vinna ekki sjlfkrafa til flks fltta. Umskjendur, sem mega f sr vinnu, vera a fara sjlfir atvinnuleit.
En eftir v sem g ekki, gengur atvinnuleit umskjendanna mjg illa.

Fyrst og fremst mega eir ekki nota jnustu Vinnumlastofnunar, af v a eir eru ekki kerfinu. eir kunna ekki slenskt tunguml og einnig eiga eir yfirleitt ekki marga slenski vini sem geta veitt eim asto. a maur sendi umskn um vinnu til allra vinnuveitenda sem auglsa fyrir lausa stu, er srasjaldan sem koma svr fr eim.

Sumir vinnuveitendur ekkja ekki hvernig eir geta ri tlending sem hefur ekki kennitlu og a getur einnig veri g afskun fyrir til a ra ekki flk fltta.
a einhver s heppinn ngu a finna vinnu fyrir sig, kemur atvinnuleyfi ekki endilega tmanlega.

Eitt dmi sem g hef vitna var etta: Umskjandi um aljlega vernd fkk rningarsamning. Hann var heppinn, en lgmaur hans kynnti hann fyrir atvinnurekanda sem leitai a starfsmanni. Umskn um atvinnuleyfi var sent til yfirvaldanna. En eftir hlft r hafi veri lii, var atvinnuleyfi enn ekki komi. Atvinnurekandinn gat ekki beii lengur en etta og rningarsamningnum var slti.

Spurningar mnar eru essar: Af hverju geta umskjendur um aljlega vernd, sem mega f sr vinnu, ekki nota jnustu Vinnumlastofnunar? g held a a s ngileg sta ess a eir f srstakt leyfi um agang a jnustu Vinnumlastofnunar.

Af hverju br tlendingastofnun ea annar byrgaraili mlinu ekki til upplsingarhefti sem tskrir astur flks sem skir um aljlega vernd og hvernig vinnuveitandi getur ri v, svo a flki getur teki a me sr atvinnuleit og lti vinnuveitanda hafa?

Af hverju tekur a svona langan tma a tvega atvinnuleyfi, a a s einnig ml sem varar alla innflytjendur utan ESB?
Er a sanngjarnt gar annarra innflytjenda utan ESB a veita flki fltta, sem er hlutfallslega ftt, undantekningu fr skyldu um atvinnuleyfi?

Menntun og sjlfboastarf

Hva um flk sem m ekki vinna mean a er a ba eftir rskuri yfirvalda um ml sitt? a a geti ekki unni, ntist tminn samt menntun, sjlfboastarfsemi ea tmstundagaman fyrir sig.

En hinga til er eina tkifri fyrir flk fltta til a mennta sig, slenskunmskei, og auk ess, enskunmskei Reykjavk. Mr skilst a slenskunmskeii Reykjavk s fr kl. 9 til 12 fjra daga viku og stendur rj vikur og mr finnst etta vera ekki slmt, ef ntt nmskei kemur tmanlega eftir lok eins nmskeis.

En Reykjanesb er nmskeii aeins fjrar klukkustundir viku og stendur tu vikur. Og a virist langt milli nmskeia ar. g tla ekki a segja a Reykjanesbr vanrki byrg sna, af v a vi frttum um grarleg fjrhagsvanda Reykjanesbjar og sennilega vantar hann peninga til a auka tkifri menntunar fyrir flttaflki. En samt er meginatrii hr a a er ekki ngileg starfsemi hj umskjendum um aljlega vernd.

(*Leirtting: g fkk bendingu eftir mlflutninginn, en nmskeii Reykjavk er tvr klukkustundir dag, anna hvort f.h. ea e.h. og stendur fjra vikur, en a er bara fjrar vikur hverju hlfu ri. v er staan nstum sama og Reykjanesb).

komum vi a sjlfboastarfi. Margir umskjendanna ska ess a taka tt sjlfboastarfsemi. En rauninni er afar ltill mguleiki til heldur sjlfboavinnu. Mr snist a a s bersnilegt a vi urfum a skapa fleira tkifri fyrir sjlfboastarf fyrir flk fltta.

A v leyti hvlir byrgin ekki aeins yfirvldunum heldur einnig rum stofnanum sem eiga erindi vi mlefni eins og Raui Krossinn ea jafnvel jkirkjan a mnu mati. En a ir ekki a yfirvldin beri hr enga byrg.

Persnulega finnst mr eins og yfirvldin telji sig ekki bera neina byrg lan og vanlan umskjenda um aljlega vernd, en er slkt rtt vihorf? Ijuleysi sem umskjendur eru dmdir til gegn vilja snum skapar gern vandaml eins og kvi og unglyndi.

,,Eat, sleep, eat, sleep… I’m getting depressed“. a er andleg pynting a lta mann skynja eins og a maur vri arfur. Allir hafa rtt a leggja sitt af mrkum til samflagsins. a eru grunnrttindi.


egar er skoa hversdagslf umskjenda um aljlega vernd, munum vi vera a viurkenna a a allt of mrg atrii su skilin eftir hlfger, a a s hgt a sinna eim betur og bta au.

g ekki ekki miki til um verkaskiptingu sveitarflaga, einstaka runeyta og stofnana en mr finnst ofboslega skrti egar velferarruneyti segir ekki or um mlefni umskjenda um aljlega vernd. a talar htt um flttaflk sem rki bur ntt lf slandi. Skortur virkum vilja hj yfirvldunum og agerarleysi eru n komin stig duldra fordma.

Og egar g tek svo til ora er g lka a tala um stareynd a yfirvld refsa flki fltta, flki sem neyddist til a nota falskt vegabrf, vert ofan 31. grein flttamannasamningsins. Yfirvldin skilja einnig a hjn me v a vsa maka sem er umskjandi um aljalega vernd r landi.

g ver a segja a hvort tveggja er jafnvel meira en duldir fordmar, a eru duldar ofsknir. Ef til vill hefur srhver starfsmaur hj yfirvldnum ekki slkt huga, en vinnubrgin sem heild mlefninu eru dulin ofskn gegn umskjendum um aljlega vernd.

langar mig a spyrja yfirvldin:
Af hverju ofski i flk fltta? Af hverju hafi i and v?

N er tmi til a vi fum svar.

Krar akkir til ykkar mlinginu

(essi ra var flutt ruefnishluta um ,,hversdagslf” mlings um mlefni flttamanna ,,Faru burt!!“. Mlingi var haldi vegum MFK In ann 23. nvember 2014)

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