Gene had been suffering from Dementia, and his death just before his 89th birthday can be seen as a blessing. I often provide final blessings and lead memorial services as a pastor. You cannot help but absorb the energy in the room that can range from peace to anger to sorrow – and anywhere in between. This, however, was different – for Gene was also my father-in-law. As I led his service on Tuesday morning, I was ever so aware that this was my wife and our family stung by such a pain. Our nephew gave a beautifully heart-felt eulogy of his grandfather. Cousins, who always make me smile, stayed with us. Friends continually checked in to meet our needs. A whirlwind of emotions circulated through my soul. As I stood at the podium during the hymn “Beautiful Savior” that morning, I intentionally took a moment to gaze around and see the loving tears rolling down familiar faces, and a mysterious sense of peaceful blessing washed over me.
Emily and Ryan gathered at my church with family and friends on Friday for a rehearsal of their wedding. We count Emily’s family amongst our closest friends in this world, and I had been looking forward to this weekend for months. That night we attended a festive rehearsal dinner and heard stories. The next morning we hosted the girls in our home as hairdressers, make-up specialists, and florists came by to help them get ready for the afternoon. The laughter and anticipation was palpable. Later, I smiled again as the groom and his friends played ping-pong in my church’s youth room just minutes before the wedding. During their wedding, I asked them to turn around and look at those gathered in our sanctuary, and then I reminded them that God’s love is ever present in the people who surround us. Their smiles made my heart jump. At the reception, I led a prayer, enjoyed a wonderful meal, and danced with my wife. As the music played on, I took a moment to gaze around and marveled as so many people I personally know and love celebrated with such unbridled joy. Once again, that same mysterious sense of peaceful blessing washed over me.
In one week, two events that stretch across the extremes of our life cycles, both reminded me of the same truth. God’s Love flows through my life in every moment regardless of the mood, bringing a sense of peace and calm. Sure, the world’s negativity can occasionally knock us down, but only if we forget to stop and gaze around. Thank you, O Lord, for the rolling current of your love that ever buffets the moments of our lives. Amen.
-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin, IL)