O Lord, we walk by your side grimly, each carrying the crosses we bear in this life. The road winds as we approach the base of a hill – Golgotha. But here is where our lives are transformed. Grace dictates that we each hand our crosses to you. I do so reluctantly, knowing the pain it will cause you, and yet understanding that I desperately want to avoid this suffering at all cost myself. It is now yours to endure, while I watch silently awestruck by your love. No amount of gratitude is enough. Thus, I can only stare at you solemnly. You look into my eyes, and I turn away painfully aware that there are no words sufficient for me to say. And so I simply keep vigil with a mournful soul, all the while observing grace upon grace fulfilled. Finally, in one jarring moment, you call out – and all of creation cries out with you. In another flash, the world grows quiet, and I find myself walking away stunned by the enormity of your heart once again. O my brother, Jesus – it is your love alone that makes us worthy. Amen.

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

The Community Gathered At The Cross

I find myself standing near the base of the hill at Calvary on a Friday staring at you, my brother Jesus, hanging there upon the cross. There is both wonder and horror flowing through my heart. I marvel at your humility. I sense your perfect love. I feel guilt and redemption all at once. I am unaware of the throng of souls representing all generations who stand with me here. They are somehow invisible to me on this day, as they are most. Rather, I am lost in ‘my’ moment, completely oblivious to anyone or anything but you and that cross sent to save me. But this is actually YOUR moment. This is a moment for all of humanity and creation. You, my Lord, see everyone in the crowd of humanity gathered through all times and places. You call us each by name and look deeply into our eyes. You love my brothers and sisters, even as I sometimes don’t even notice them. You call the names of people I don’t even bother to know. You love the ‘other’ so much deeper than I can even love myself. And so, as I stare intensely at you, I fail to recognize that your eyes are imploring me to look instead upon those standing around me.

They, too, are the object of your love. They are all my family, my friends. They all have as deep of a meaning and purpose to you as I do. They, as well as I, are the object of your affection and salvation. Thus, you beg for me to see the ‘other’ standing right next to me, for he or she is also your child and your true love. So, reluctantly but with your encouragement my Lord, I take my eyes off of you and look around, finally beginning to notice those who have gathered here too. He is a college student half my age who only wants a chance to go to nursing school without carrying a debt he cannot repay. She is from Syria, seeking the opportunity to simply live in peace and safety. He is a senior citizen on a fixed income who now feels he lacks purpose, but who has a great story and remarkable wisdom to share. She is a toddler holding tight to her mommy’s hand and her doll. Near me stands another young man in great pain desperate for answers, while behind him is an elderly lady whose hand is held by a hospice nurse. Meanwhile, a homeless person moves through the crowd aimlessly, almost invisible and always hungry. As I gaze around, there are no walls of division and no dirty looks. There are no fiery speeches about greatness or past glory. Here, no one judges. Here, everyone is valuable. Here, everyone is welcome. Here, around this cross, is a community with only one law: Love your neighbor. Amen.

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