It all begins with a heavy snowfall, dropped gently and peacefully from God’s storehouses in the heavens. A picture is being painted as the creation around us transforms into something similar, and yet somehow slightly different from any other that has come before. Bare tree limbs glisten under a coating of white crystals. Green evergreen needles poke through clumps of snow as their branches droop under the weight. Suddenly the world is black and white with slight tinges of green sprinkled in. A pristine snow now blankets the earth as if placed there with the utmost of care. The universe calms as stars and bright full moon take their place watching over the scene. The night is beautiful, but God isn’t done yet.

For an hour or two, the reflection of light from the moon shines down through the trees on to the blank canvas that is the snow. A drawing begins to emerge, as if sketched perfectly with a pencil. It is the shadow of the tree, in its entirety, laid out upon the snow! It stretches in all directions, limbs appearing as capillaries reaching for something…anything. I simply stare in wonder at such an amazing piece of art. But even now, the show isn’t over. Slowly, darkness creeps across the moon as its light source is eclipsed. Reflections fade and the scene turns eerily dark and quiet. Now the stars shine as bright as ever, and the oversized moon turns black, and then red! Ah…the Blood Moon.

I am thankful, Lord, that you never stop creating and re-creating. And I am equally thankful that on this particular day and night, I took time to simply step back and observe YOU at work. Far too often I am so busy monitoring my own presence in this world that I fail to notice yours. These moments were both glorious and fleeting. I admit to my frequent failures to observe you, but I also have learned that some of the moments which I treasure in my heart the most are those when I stand still as the witness to your artistry. My weary world will have to learn to wait… Amen.

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


All is quiet now. A thin sheet of ice covers a blanket of snow amidst the trees, gently reflecting the moonlight into the darkness. Bare tree limbs waver slightly, while a grove of evergreens obediently hold in their arms whatever snow they could catch the other day. The contrast of grey bark, green needles and white snow in the soft light is a winter treat for my eyes. The cold breeze stings against my face, and the whisper of the wind in my ears is literally the only sound that is audible this night. I stand here, marveling at this momentary sabbath in this little outdoor sanctuary. The creation itself is God’s sanctuary. These precious moments are fleeting at best, but needed desperately.
My day had included time in prayer with a couple who had lost their home and pet to a fire first thing in the morning. When I handed them simple things such as soap, combs and toothbrushes – they had burst into tears. I had spent time sharing the joys of fellowship with some of our retirees, as we worshipped, ate and played games together. Their laughter is truly contagious. I had completed my day with a distant relative I hadn’t seen in years, as he reminisced and prepared to say goodbye to his wife of 61 years. So, on this night, I found my heart filled with anguish, joy, reverence and sadness. Thus, this one moment of stillness in the presence of God’s artistic beauty and peaceful grace now serves as a release for all that I carry. I can let go here. I can hand over to God here. For God has come to me, in this place, with hands outstretched and with a glimmer shining in divine eyes. In this one moment, I can take a deep breath and rest in God’s arms. I need not carry burden alone. This is Sabbath. This is God’s Love for us. All is quiet now… Amen.
-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin, IL)


On this chilled winter morning, the sun rises as I watch through the picture window in the comfort of my living room. Two maple trees stand in absolute stillness, their dark frame silhouetted in the sunlight, resting in their seasonal sabbath. Just behind them, in stark contrast, is a lush pine tree full of life and needles, gently dancing joyfully in the breeze of the day. A small little bird calls out to no one in particular somewhere nearby, or perhaps her call is for me. Inside, our houseplants all lean into the window, seeking precious time in the sun. They make space for one another, and yet huddle in community. In the background, I listen to the beautiful melody of the bells tolling as our clock strikes the hour.

The scene is gentle, clear and crisp. Life is moving forward, even if winter seems to stand still. Far beneath the ground, creatures of the summer are transforming in cocoons while adjacent seeds are gathering nutrients. Inside my maples, sap is flowing up and down their bare trunks. Everywhere, below the surface, there is movement amongst the stillness. God is at work now, preparing and transfiguring the creation even as the creation rests in its winter sleep. My mind wanders, and I find myself wondering what God is stirring in me even as I sit in my moment of sabbath this morning, calmly and quietly. I need not be busy – I need not be working or studying – for God to be acting upon me. And so I just sit and let God the artist mold and create around and within me, on this chilled winter morning. Amen.

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