Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Sunday

Today is All Saints Sunday, a day when we have the opportunity to give thanks for those who have come before us, for those who have touched our lives.

Today I am going to talk about my grandfather, the Rev. Ernest Miko.  It makes me sad that - because he died when I was only 15 months old - what I can share with you are only the stories that I have heard from my family.  But stories are what keep our saints alive, right?

My grandfather was an UCC pastor.  He was actually ordained with the Evangelical & Reformed Synod (two of the four denominational roots of what is now known as the United Church of Christ) and was pivotal in the ecumenical conversations that led to the 1957 merger.

My grandfather was driven by the call to justice.  He and his family were not that far from Ellis Island.  His mother had sailed to the United States from Hungary.  She was turned away and forced to sail back and forth several times before she finally got through.  All she had in her possession was a small basket.

My grandfather spoke out for immigrant rights.  He publicly supported the Civil Rights Movement.  He believed in equal gender rights.  He met people wherever they were, spoke gently and was sincere in all that he said and all that he did.

My grandfather died in the spring of 1986.  He was survived by my grandmother, my mom and her two sisters and my sister and I.

The further I walk in my journey towards ordination, the stronger I feel my grandfather's presence with and within me.  I have thought often that I regret the fact that he will not be with me on my ordination, to stand next to my mom and - together - lay their hands on my head and ordain me into a new generation of ministry.  So instead I will hold with me the memory of my baptism, when he touched me with water and baptized me into a community of Christians that have supported and nurtured me.

Grandfather - In the grand scheme of things, you were only alive for a miniscule part of my life.  That is why I am grateful for the stories; for the stories that tell me about who you were, what you stood for and the legacy that still remains.  I pray every day that I am making you proud.

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