A Tiny Glimpse…

Bright pink flowers bloom upon the tips of the cactus peacefully adorning my desk. This beautiful little plant stands in stark contrast to the scene just on the other side of the window, where all is still bleak and dreary. Across the street, an old tree reaches ever upward into the skies, its branches bare and lifeless…for now. The grass is brown, and what is left of the snow has been tainted black from salt and dirt. The view out this window, quite frankly, lacks any sign of life on this day. But my little cactus sets defiant against its backdrop, spreading joy to all who see it (even if that may simply be me alone).

On this day, in this week, my sweet companion sitting on my desk reminds me of God’s Love – a love which also blooms defiantly against a dark and dreary world. Such a love as this cannot be dimmed by the scenes playing out as a backdrop all around us. Such a love as this flowers even in the most harsh of conditions. Such a love as this spreads joy to even the most weary heart who momentarily takes notice of its presence in the space. Such a love as this can stop us in our tracks, and challenge are perspective if for but a moment.

So grow little one. Bloom in my office on the most bland of days. Bring beauty amidst the dread. Shine, even in a season where we are reminded we are but dust. Grow in the face of a setting where all is withered and bare. Be a glimmer of life in the forefront of a window that reveals only images of death. For God’s Love will reign! God’s Love will transform! God’s Love will renew! Today, you are but a small reminder of what is promised, and will someday burst into glory all around us. Thanks be to God for small life, moments of companionship, and glorious love. Amen.

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

SANCTUARY AS A WAY OF LIFE

A quiet, sunlit sanctuary sits idle on a weekday afternoon. I stand at the pulpit from which I weekly preach, and gaze around the room. For over a century now, this room has sprung to life for worship, its old altar and baptismal font sometimes offering familiar hope and comfort for those whose ancestors have gathered here before. The pipe organ in the balcony has shaken the room with loud, passionate melodies on so many Easters and other joyous moments. The hard wooden pews offer comfort to the soul, if not to the body. The piano has gently bellowed the tune of Silent Night amidst candles brightly lit on Christmas Eve for decades now. This room is more of a sensation than it is a place. I feel peace and serenity here, knowing that this is where a community gathers to worship God and to love one another.

A grove, full of evergreens and other trees, stands quietly on a weekday afternoon, snow gently falling and piling up as I watch in wonder. The bare limbs of the trees, and the needles of the pines, collect those flakes which they can before they float and scatter to the ground. Birds and squirrels seek refuge in these trees, their tall guardians. The scene is eerily silent, and remarkably beautiful. Cold, crisp air flows on the wind, whipping snowflakes into a frenzied dance before my eyes. Occasionally the silence is broken by the excited scream of a child riding a sled down a small hill. This, too, is a sanctuary, for God dwells here amidst the creation which has been molded by God’s glorious hands. I stand here and watch, again feeling the peace and serenity of the One who has so lovingly imagined this moment and this life into existence. Out in this space, the community of the creation gathers to worship God in a common web of life.

Through occasions such as these, I have come to learn that sanctuary is a moment experienced, rather than a place visited. It is the sense and feeling of God’s presence, which can never be restricted to one location, but rather happens in every corner of our lives. Sanctuary is a soul-filled time spent in relationship with the beating heart of God. Sanctuary is that peace and serenity felt deep inside one’s being that occurs when God’s touch is recognized. Sanctuary is that sense of wonder that overwhelms us with grace. Sanctuary is much more cultural than structural. So today I thank you, my Lord, for making sanctuary a way of life that I can experience any time and any where. Amen.

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