A Fateful Prayer Years Ago…

On a warm sunny morning, I find myself sitting on a bench staring at the altar of an outdoor chapel. The huge magnificent tree behind that altar waves gently in the breeze. All around me I hear birds and insects who are either busy at work, or peacefully singing before God. Quietly I pray. On this morning, my prayers are simple, and yet my heart is pounding. After yet another long night of wrestling with God’s calling out to me, I am prepared to surrender. So I sit here admiring this glorious sunrise, and tell God that I will finally take the risk and go to seminary. I will at long last seek the courage to turn my life over to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I reluctantly pray, with a large sigh, “Ok my Lord, let’s do this.” In these few moments, I sense my life and my very identity are about to change forever.

Many years have passed since that morning. Indeed, decades have gone by. I have since lost loved ones who were amongst the first to know, and found new loves to shine in my life. In fact, there has been only one constant through all these myriad of sunrises – change. My life has become the workplace of the Holy Spirit. My heart is open to be used for empathy. My hands are available for hard labor in moments of disaster response. My mind is ever seeking new wisdom as I study and teach. My soul has leapt for joy as I have baptized a newborn, and cried in sorrow as I have eulogized a tragic death. My eyes have made contact with those at the communion rail hungering for grace, and with those in a hospital bed desperately seeking any sign of hope. I have uttered prayers of thanksgiving, and shouted prayers of anguish and anger. The one truth that holds for every day is that each morning brings with it some semblance of new life and new birth. I know understand the role of a pastor is to accept this fact – for renewal and transfiguration are the work of the Spirit. Thus, I have learned to celebrate change rather than fear it.

I am amazed daily at the journey I travel hand in hand with the Lord. I am but a tourist, and God my guide. My life is God’s to use. My soul is God’s clay to mold. My heart is God’s to open. As overwhelmed as I felt that morning in an outdoor chapel, today I find myself equally grateful for this calling. So as I sit enjoying this sunrise, so many years later, I find myself reciting the words of one of my favorite songs, “Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord. I have heard you calling in the night.” Thank you, my Lord. I again this day turn my life over into your hands. Amen.

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

This Space Is Sacred

On a dreary morning, an eagle soars above my house, gliding effortlessly as she rides the waves of the winds. She swoops down to the tree tops, before ascending again and disappearing into the low cloud cover. Smaller birds scatter into the pine trees, as if some sort of alarm has been sounded. Their chatter from tree to tree reaches a loud crescendo before they all return to the ground searching for seed. The crabapple tree hovering above them is just beginning to form a few early spring buds, as its stretches back to life from a long winter’s night slumber. Just then, the birds scatter yet again, as this time a squirrel bounds across the yard and leaps into the tree, scurrying hurriedly up the branches. I stand and watch peacefully and quietly, as life goes on all around me. God’s creation is busy this morning.

It occurs to me now that God’s creation is always busy, if I just stop long enough to pay attention. Every creature I have witnessed on this morning was placed here intentionally by God. Mine is not to know why, but rather just to acknowledge this as fact. In God’s eyes, these creatures are my brothers and sisters, as worthy of being here as I am. They have the same life-giving breath within them that I do. They have been molded by the same hands of the Creator as I have. God is active here, on this morning, and in my front yard!

Now my mind is spinning, as I am reminded of a thought that is deeply engrained in my heart. God is always present! God’s glory is always right here! God’s grace and life is always at my side! I am never alone. I need not seek God in specific places, because God is ever seeking me exactly where I am. THIS SPACE IS SACRED! This space is inhabited by God’s creatures, including myself. This space in the universe is teeming with life that is granted with a purpose by our loving God. This space, in which I myself exist and go about my daily routine, is truly holy in ways I cannot seem to fully comprehend. These thoughts warm my sometimes weary spirit. Thus, once again this day, I can smile and gently say, “My soul is well.” Amen.

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

Contemplation

Contemplate…

Contemplate your presence in life…and God’s presence.

Contemplate life that is too short…and death that is not the final answer.

Contemplate God’s divine purpose for your life…and God’s faith in you.

Contemplate God as the only judge…and yourself as amongst the judged.

Contemplate Christ as King over all the earth…and it’s every tomb.

Contemplate Christ as ruler over all life…and all death.

Contemplate life…and new life. Contemplate despair…and yet hope.

Contemplate God’s mission of Love…and your own.

Contemplate Lent as a way of relationship with God.

Contemplate God’s Love of you…and amazing grace.

Contemplate God…and never stop. Amen.

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