GOD’S WEB OF LIFE

A few clouds hang in the sky above, beckoning my inner child to see something in their shape. In the foreground, a bare tree is coated with red buds waiting to spring to life. One or two tiny leaves have already begun to peek out at the world, preparing to grow into their summer shape. Nearby, a ground squirrel cautiously pokes his head out of a hole to survey the scene, and then scampers over to a rock where seeds and nuts have been left for him as a feast after months of hibernation. All around, the creation resurrects to new life.

As I sit here, a beautiful butterfly flutters over my head for a few moments, peacefully showing off a bright rainbow of color. Later, a hawk passionately swoops down like a flash, leaving me startled as she rides the tide of the breeze several feet away. I could sit here forever, writing sermon notes and blogs. It occurs to me that a measure of the creativity God has used to artistically design this little corner of the world has also been planted in my soul as I write of God’s glory. I am created by God, with the purpose of myself creating and adding to that which God already loves. With each creative moment, I also find new life – for one cannot live in relationship to God and creation without being changed by every encounter.

In reality, I cannot say with certainty that I comprehend the meaning of this calling in ministry, but rather I just accept it as part of my purpose. Perhaps the words God inspires in me first bud, and then spring to life, taking shape and growing into something yet to be seen. Perhaps that which God leads me to observe is meant to serve as a sufficient survey of the surrounding world, thus giving me some sense of security to drift out from places where I may otherwise feel inclined to hide or hibernate. Perhaps the emotions God stirs are intended to calm my heart like a brightly adorned fluttering butterfly, or to swoop into my consciousness with the ferocity of a hawk evoking deep provocation in moments when I need it most. Perhaps the thoughts God speaks into my mind occasionally are designed to simply drift by with little purpose other than to tickle my childhood imagination. The one thing I do know is that God desires to hear my voice, and so I watch and I write. Mine is not to ask why, but instead to simply do. God will decide how best to use. Such is the way in God’s Web of Life. Amen.

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

MOMENTS OF COMPANIONSHIP

It is midnight, and God’s creation is at peace. A few bare tree limbs waft gently in the breeze, as God continuously breathes life into the night air. Nearby, an owl calls out to her partner and awaits the response of companionship. Otherwise, there is only a stillness and quiet which slowly engulfs me, calming my soul.

The irony of this world is not lost on me this night. We create such ugliness and chaos in the same spaces where God creates such beauty and peace. Perhaps this is why I find myself craving these moments. God walks these grounds, calming storms. We walk these same grounds, often creating storms. It is God I must seek to find here. It is the holiness of walking where God has walked that I must recognize. It is the quiet within the noise that I must experience. Thus, on a cold night, I stand in the darkness and observe that which is home to me, and which is hallowed to God. Unconsciously my heart falls into rhythm with the Heart of God beating so gently here. My breathing slows into unity with the slight breeze that reaches out to caress my face. Above, the clouds are clearing, just as they are within my soul. God is here – and so am I. With a deeply intentional sigh, I simply say “Amen.”

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

THIS UNFATHOMABLE LOVE

“What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility…this is for God the ground of unfathomable love.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I must remember these words! But oh my Lord and my God, there is ever so much that I find repulsive in this world. Thoughts of your experience on the cross and in the tomb are numbing to me. The burning of any place of worship deeply angers me. The shooting of children on streets and in schools tears at my soul. Watching refugees die because they literally have no tiny corner of this world where they can be accepted makes my heart feel sick. Knowing that so many have twisted Holy Scriptures to “justify” racism, sexism, injustice, and prejudice so vastly damages my faith in humanity. The walls we build to separate ourselves, and the words we use so freely to demean one another, sadden me. How can we take that which is so beautifully molded by Your Hands of Grace and denigrate it so easily? My heart sinks.

Then I remember again that unfathomable love. My Lord, you can leave no corner of this universe alone. Your touch extends through all times and places, and especially hovers near the worst we have to offer. You dream of peace. You dream of equality and unity. You dream of life and hope. You dream of new life. And thus, this unfathomable love rides the waves of grace into our tombs and streets and hearts. This unfathomable love hammers away at the walls we would build. This unfathomable love dries tears, restores souls, and renews that which is so devastated. My heart may ache, but it also beats as one with Your Heart. It has no choice if it is to live this day! Thus I find some level of solace in the knowledge that those areas I so wish to avoid are the very areas you so wish to invade. I find some level of strength in the understanding that Your Light is piercing. And in response, my weary soul responds: Here I am Lord…my heart and my voice are available, even if they are occasionally feeble. For I must also remember that my own personal weaknesses and failures, regardless of how inconsequential to the “big” picture they may seem to me, are also ground for this unfathomable love. And now, my soul faintly glows once again. Amen.

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

GOD OF NEW LIFE

The week following Jesus’ resurrection began with life returning to normal – or at least as normal as it could be. Golgotha stood still once again as a hill along the countryside, covered in mud where so many had trod over the grass just a day or two before. People no longer remained milling around and the crosses were no longer standing tall over the surrounding valleys. Nearby, the tomb stood quiet and empty once again, the stone having been rolled away and only shadows abiding within. The guards had left their post, confused about the events of that previous morning. Disciples had retreated to upper rooms, far outside the public view for fear of what repercussions might come now that Jesus’ body was missing. Those who had seen him were ever so cautious about who they shared the Good News with, knowing that this news brought with it a meaning beyond their comprehension as of yet. Meanwhile, the exodus of people leaving Jerusalem had begun once again. Many left with pain in their hearts, still unaware of the resurrection that had taken place, while others left pondering the wild and chaotic events that they had witnessed over these days. The Romans found themselves appreciating the returning calm once again, as the Holy Days wound down.  Only a precious few were aware of how different the world now was.

I often find myself standing in great wonder this week following Easter. The past week has been a whirlwind, with emotions ranging from humility to grief to joy, and now life is expected to return back to the normal and familiar. Life, however, is anything but normal, because God is the ‘God of New Life.’ Normal – as it is defined in by God for the creation – is resurrection to newness. What I was yesterday I am not meant to be today, for every day is a new dawn. The world cannot stay like this forever – God does not intend stagnancy. Somehow, peace will be born and love will reign here in some resurrection not so far off. Somehow, we find ways to overcome disease and learn to adjust accordingly. Somehow, walls of division are broken down by common folk in Berlin while elsewhere the dreams of a prophet named Martin come to fruition in the decades following his violent death. Somehow, stars pass away in a spectacular flight across the night sky while others explode to new life. Somehow the little trickle of a stream carves a new canyon in a mountainside. Somehow, with God’s hands leading the way, resurrection to newness becomes the norm – even as we pretend otherwise.

Yesterday has blazed its memory into the history books. Today is a new day, and tomorrow will be new yet again. Such is life for us as People of the Resurrection. He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING! Amen.

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