A Transfigured Life

We are a Transfigured people through Christ. Our hate is transfigured into love. Our greed is transfigured into grace. Our tombs have been transfigured from a prison of death into a gateway to new life. Worldly power is really a sign of desperate want for attention and control, and thus has been transfigured into a sign of weakness. What would be worldly wisdom is foolishness, while the cross represents the ultimate wisdom. We are a Transfigured people.

We are a Resurrected people through Christ. New life and new hope are always possible. Faith requires no proof. Illness cannot define a life. Poverty cannot describe a person’s value. The emptiness of a tomb represents fullness of life. Our sin has been resurrected to righteousness in God’s eyes. The greatest of all gifts are the gifts of the heart and spirit, not the mind. We are a Resurrected people.

We are Children of the Light. We shine with the Light of God. We love our neighbor as ourselves. We welcome all people with grace. Acceptance is our way of life, not judgment. We are members of God’s web of life, living in communion with all creation. Everyone is a brother and sister to us. We seek peace, not escalation of conflict and violence. We work for God’s kingdom, not our own. We are a reflection of God’s heart and soul. We are Children of the Light.

Life in God’s creation is a journey. Change and movement are inevitable. This is God’s way. We are meant to be Transfigured. We are created to be Resurrected. We are purposed to shine Light. Renewal is our God-given destiny. Every day is a new day, which the Lord has made, that will lead us in ever new directions. Every morning is full of wonder, and every evening full of glory. The universe, and every life within it, can never be stagnant. And so, within this another new day, we give thanks to God for the constant ebb and flow of a Transfigured life. Amen.

-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Elgin, IL)

Ministry Is…

Ministry is the moment at the communion rail where a little toddler asks you to bless her Teddy Bear too. Ministry is that same little girl wandering into your office a little later, pointing at a picture, and asking, “Your daddy?” Ministry is lying on the floor at Vacation Bible School trying to teach a baby how to roll over. Ministry is picking up a fussy baby on a Sunday morning and having him calm in your arms. He instinctively looks into my eyes and touches my face, while I instinctively walk him over to a table full of grandmas! Ministry is giving fist bumps to grade school children rather than handshakes. Ministry is throwing a football with a little boy next to the desert table, and making all the adults nervous! Ministry is asking how school is going, and taking the time to listen. Ministry is celebrating First Communion with children just finding their faith. Ministry is simply sharing God’s Love in any way possible.

Ministry is holding a teenager as she sobs uncontrollably on your shoulder. Just thirty minutes earlier she called to say her dad had collapsed in the bedroom. Ministry is sitting by the bedside of a teenager as she wonders why she can’t be healthy like her friends. Ministry is telling a little boy that even if his mommy is no longer here, she can still always hear him if he wants to tell her something in a prayer. Ministry is giving a Homily at the funeral of a pediatric cancer patient, and seeing the look of innocence lost in the eyes of her classmates. Ministry is serving a meal to a homeless teenager, and sitting down to help him with his homework. Ministry is simply sharing God’s Love in any way possible.

Ministry can be both joyful and gut-wrenching, especially with the children of a community. It is relational and all about connecting. Ministry is respect. Ministry is meeting people where they are today. Somehow, through the years, I have come to believe that children understand this more than us adults, for they have had far less time to be jaded by the world. They know that God loves, and this is often more than enough for them. I must admit that sometimes I forget that they have been sent to reach me with your Love as much as I have been sent to reach them. But then I remember again that they are as much the Church today as I am, and occasionally they are much more wise than I am too! So thank you, my Lord, for sending these young men and women into my life and ministry. They are always a beacon of what your Church should be. Amen.

-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Elgin, IL)

BLESSED TO BE BROKEN

“If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” Matthew 5: 30a

You strike great fear with these words, my Lord. Yet, I know your love and grace. I know you would never want for any of your children to harm even one hair upon their body. So I have come to accept these words as exactly what they are: the official judgment of me as broken. Yes, my Brother, I am broken in your eyes and heart. I cannot ever live up to the expectations of being Holy on my own. I cannot obey the Laws of God by my own accord. I am broken. Our world is broken.

This, however sad it may sound, is actually a statement that in some counter-worldly way warms my soul. For if I am officially broken, then the cross is for me! If we as a human family are broken, then the cross is for us all. It is ultimately these words that lead us helpless and humiliated to your cross, for there can be no other way. Thus, I submit myself for judgment. I cannot stop my sinful nature short of being mutilated, and even then it will remain. My righteousness, therefore, must fall to you. Worldly ways of punishment cannot win the day. Only love beyond all understanding can do that.

Today I stand before you and listen intently. I will cringe as I hear these words. I will cry at their implication. And I will know that, by grace alone, it is you who will bear this punishment for me. I will try to repent and then praise you in thanksgiving, but it won’t ever be enough. There will never be anything I can do that is enough. So I simply stand here in awe of your love for me, and accept that which I truly am – a broken person. Even for this, I say AMEN!

-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Elgin, IL)

 

Today I Pray

Today, I pray My Lord…

I pray for my sister who fears terrorists and wants safety for her children and her country, and I pray for my brother who is a refugee in Syria and only wants safety for his children as well.

I pray for my brother the police officer who daily sees the worst of society and yet is sworn to protect the public while never knowing what to expect, and I pray for my sister who is a person of color and has learned from experience to never know what to expect when she is pulled over.

I pray for my sister who has little trust for her government and voted for the person she sees as an outsider, and I pray for yet another sister who also distrusts our society and has marched and protested in hopes of also creating positive change.

I pray for my friend who serves as a Rabbi, and for my other friend who is a devout Muslim.

I pray for brothers and sisters who feel their voice has finally been heard, and I pray for other brothers and sisters who now legitimately fear discrimination or work feverishly for the well being of Your creation.

I pray for my brother who works in the media, now ridiculed daily by politicians who have played the media for years. And I pray for my sister who feels the media has always played her for a fool.

I pray for those I agree with, and those I strongly disagree with.

I pray for those who celebrate the defeat of cancer, and those who cannot understand why their body has betrayed them.

I pray for my brother who is getting away and recharging, and for my sister who so desperately needs rest but can’t.

I pray for us all, because my Lord – you have touched us all and placed us here with a purpose. I pray for us all because the one thing we have in common is that you choose to give us life. I pray for us all because no matter how we try, we are inescapably connected in one web of life. I pray for us all because no matter how we try to divide, you always seek to unite.

Thus, my Lord, I pray today, giving thanks for the table you prepare before me in the presence of my enemies, because really my enemies are as much my human family as my friends. Thank you, my Lord, for my brothers and sisters who always challenge me to think, and for those who ever stand by my side and validate my voice. Thank you, my Lord, for all my brothers and sisters in this world. Amen.

-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Elgin, IL)