Beautiful Sabbath Rest

It is a gloomy and rainy morning. As I look out my office window, I see trees changing colors and dropping leaves. This process of letting go is seemingly painless, as it will lead to rest and eventual new life in the months to come. The creation literally mimics on this day its own version of a Sabbath.

The Sabbath is, in all actuality, the greatest gift that God has given creation and each of us. It provides an opportunity for blessed renewal. It allows the weary to let go of all that currently weighs heavily on our being, and clears space for growth of that which is new and light. Sabbath is a beautiful moment spent in connection with God as the Spirit flows through our hearts and plants seeds of hope for a bright tomorrow. Sabbath is our true Thanksgiving.

Sabbath need not be a once per week occurrence, but rather can be sought by our souls in any moment and at any place. It is the releasing of burdens and the acceptance of God’s presence in this space. Sabbath is time spent in our faith community on a Sunday morning, joined together as family, singing hymns that lift our spirits and praying for those whom we love. Sabbath is sitting under a tree and watching ripples of water waft across a pond. Sabbath is staring upward at stars who break the darkness, even as a gentle breeze envelops the soul. Sabbath is a moment spent reading a most favorite and meaningful Scripture from the Bible in a moment of either revelation or cherished memory. Sabbath is time spent quietly in the embrace of God’s love and grace.

Thus, on this day, I give thanks for the gift of Sabbath, and once again vow to seek this time every day, and in every way that I can. Thank you, my Lord, for the invitation into your holy and peaceful presence. Amen.

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

Creation as God’s Community

She stands 15 feet tall, still young and waiting for her life to unfold. This Red Oak has had quite a year. She was planted by my own hands with great love in just the right spot overlooking her yard, and has been investigated by squirrels, birds, and deer alike. She spent her summer spreading roots into her new home and growing green leaves on expanding limbs. Now, she finds herself turning to a glorious bright red, as she prepares to begin her deep sleep. She dreams of how graceful and majestic she will be someday!

Standing proudly nearby is a baby Norway Spruce, just two feet tall. This is only his third day planted here, and he is busy soaking up nutrients and adjusting to such new surroundings. The sun beams down upon him this morning, warming his spirit. He, too, has dreams larger than his new life can currently imagine. He will stretch to the heavens and serve as shelter and home to many of God’s creatures. Someday, the limbs of the Oak and the Spruce will touch far above their current heights. They will grow as kindred spirits together, and the Spruce will keep watch each winter as the Oak takes her rest.

This is but a tiny corner of God’s world. It is pure and purposeful. Two lives stand by one another, growing and sharing a space. They are so different from one another, and yet will spend their lifetimes in perfect community, willingly accepting and making room for one another. Their roots will intertwine like two soulmates, and their limbs will touch for all to see. Their leaves and needles will work together to feed the soil, and their limbs will serve as home and shelter to the same creatures. Their existence together is so simple, and yet so complex. This is how God intends life – to be lived in harmonious community. Today I give thanks for two young spirits sowing their seeds in my yard. Standing side by side, they will bring a smile to my face, and serve myriads of God’s little creatures, for decades to come. Amen.

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

A Sacramental Morning

This morning, my Lord, I need your peace. Presiding over a funeral for a kid and watching the news this week has worn me down. So, on a beautiful morning juxtaposed against such emotions, I find myself drawn to my upper deck seeking one of those much needed ‘sacramental’ moments.

My deck situates me literally in the limbs of two large maple trees, as if I am a child again sitting in a tree house. The sun shines gloriously through thick layers of leaves that seemingly glow. Two squirrels run up and down these trees, partners busily preparing for the winter to come. They greet me with a quick glance, and then go back to their day’s work. Birds chirp all throughout the neighborhood, speaking a language that only they, and their Creator, can comprehend. Spiders rest nearby in their webs, pieces of artwork that are remarkably intricate and proportionally large to the artist who has woven them. I find myself marveling at such an accomplishment! Your creation, my Lord, is peacefully busy today. In this setting, I feel Your presence.

Oh how I wish we could learn to love and value one another as you, my Lord, do each of us, both individually and collectively. I wish we could move about this planet as peacefully as the creation does on this morning in my yard. I wish sacramental moments such as these were our greatest priority daily, minutes lived in communion with You and all You have divinely placed in our presence. This morning, spent with You and the creation, is what life is truly about. Here I find the tranquility of Faith, Hope, and Love. Here I find the peace my soul so deeply craves. Here I find my connection to the intricate web of life You have woven in this time and place. Here, I experience You at my side. May we all learn to Love and Appreciate one another as You do. And may we all come to see You in each other, and in the world we are blessed to experience daily. Thank you, my Lord, for this ‘sacramental morning.’ Amen.

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

Children of Reformation

God is the God of Reformation…and we are a Reformation people.

God is ever creating, the Holy Spirit is ever moving, and we are along for a beautiful ride. Consider the creation around us. Moment by moment life is reformed. Trees take carbon dioxide and turn it to oxygen, while we live off that oxygen. Every night old stars die in a flash and new ones are born to shine brightly for ions to come. Oceans daily send water up into the atmosphere, where it is transformed into clouds and eventually storms, and then moved around the globe to dump rain onto land. This rain sprouts new life from the ground, which in turn will also transform what is in the air to life-giving oxygen. Meanwhile, mountains slowly grow and shift, while rivers gradually change course through the ages. The universe itself even continues to expand with every moment! Yes, we indeed live in a constant state of Reformation, divinely designed by our Creator.

This makes us Reformation children. We, too, awake to new life every day. We are called to new opportunities daily. This is the Grace of God. Life is never stagnant. Life is never meant to repeat its past. Instead, the God of Reformation is ever moving, ever pulling us toward new wisdom and new love with every breath we take. Do not resist, for this is what makes life such a gift. It is unpredictable. We live in a Grace that literally MOVES us forward into a future of unknown blessing! In time, we find ourselves craving this Grace – this agent of Reformation. For we truly do get bored easy. We find that we NEED to be reformed by God – constantly. It is in our very nature!!!

Thus, we stand with open hearts, ready to be moved again by God. This is the divine cycle of all life and all creation. God is the God of Reformation…and we are a Reformation people. Thanks be to God!!! Amen.

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