Matthew 18:20 – Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.

This particular verse has always held deep meaning for me as a pastor. It rings especially true when I contemplate God’s presence in every heart, for a heart can only beat if God wills it to – and breathes life into its lungs. Indeed, God even intentionally and meticulously plants as a seed in every heart the Grace and Love that exists far beyond our human comprehension, giving meaning to our lives as our hearts are divinely purposed to serve as God’s place of operation within our world.

As a result, I have come to see this verse over the years as a reminder that wherever two or three HEARTS are gathered, there God is amongst us. It is God’s Love which is rhythmically beating as we gather in community around baptismal waters, sacramental meals, and favored hymns. It is God’s Grace which is gently flowing as we gather in service at food pantries, disaster zones, and homeless shelters. It is God’s Light which is brightly shining as we gather in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in prisons, hospitals and refugee settlements. God is present wherever our hearts gather, because I can truly see God outwardly in the ‘other’ – just as much as I can truly see God when I quietly turn inward within myself. Thus, although I may never quite wrap my mind around this, I also have come to know that my heart beats as one with the Heart of God itself, which remarkably means that my own simplistic little heart, which I so often take for granted from moment to moment, amazingly serves as a mirror reflection of the Loving Creator to all the world! What an awe-inspiring and beautiful thought this is!

So, on this day, I give thanks because God’s Heart has somehow been made into my life’s mission. I give thanks because our gatherings are somehow made to be holy by the presence of God in the heartbeat of our community. I give thanks because somehow I can see God in you, even as you see God in me. I give thanks, because wherever at least two or three of us gather together, God’s Heart pumps an incomprehensible Peace into these sacred moments, regardless of whether they be filled with sorrow, conflict or joy. I give thanks, because we are many, often feeble, hearts that yet are beating as one holy mission. I simply give thanks – to God’s Sacred Heart. Amen.

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

Prayer Time on God’s Porch

The sun shines gloriously on a warm early-summer morning, its rays breaking through the thick canopy of the trees stretching above. A downy woodpecker hops around a maple searching for carpenter ants, her agility is almost acrobatic. Her activity will be as beneficial for the tree as it is for her young. Nearby, a bunny nibbles away at the grass, while a ground squirrel not five feet away eats seeds while watching his bigger brother attentively and cautiously. In the air is the sound of a cardinal singing praises to a new morning, while a robin stands at the base of a fledging cypress, occasionally pecking the ground below in search of a worm. In the distance, under a pine, a squirrel calmly takes it all in, waiting for that moment of inspiration where she can come bounding onto the scene and send everyone else scattering in all directions. In the midst of all this activity, a gentle breeze flows along bringing comfort as it cools everyone in its path. This is God’s creation as God intends for it to be, with all creatures great and small coexisting in a peaceful and beautiful setting.

This, for me, is a time of prayer. It is silent and still, and yet the most relational moments I will spend with God this day. Not a word needs to be spoken. Instead, I find myself just sitting with God. I am watching the world with loving interest, side by side with the Loving One who created it all. In these minutes of observation, I realize again that God does not ask of me a laundry list of my worries, but instead desires only my attentive heart. It is here, immersed in God’s kingdom, where God and I connect at the deepest levels. For in this place of sanctuary, my life is no longer about me or humanity, but rather is focused upon that which God has done and made. This is not an escape from reality, as much as it is a homecoming. So, I take time to silently watch and listen, because God’s Grace rings out the loudest in our experiences of silence. Thank you again, my Lord, for calling me into Your moments of prayer, and for saving a seat for me this morning on Your porch. Amen.

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