Mission Statement

Cyber Sabbath's goal is to begin to mend the division between Christ and the world (society) that Church has created through reflections, sermons and devotionals

Cyber Sabbath is a place for the stifled Christian voice to be heard. Media gives way to much time to the extremist - over looking the theologically educated and/or the moderates in favor of what sells their view point. Here, politics aside, a pastor reflects on God's voice in every day life.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent week 2

Every year in church we light an Advent wreath to “count down” the weeks until Christmas.  There are two common ways to celebrate each candle: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, Light.  We are reminded when we light them of what the Baby Jesus brought into the world, into our relationship with the Divine.  Here are the words for this second week, Peace:
Prepare for Jesus comes to save
In Jesus we are all children of God
As Jesus cured the sick, so too will we be offered healing
Our souls long for Christ’s salvation
God’s glory will soon be known
Reveal to us, O Lord, Christ and set us free
Good News of peace waits
        We are prepared for the wonders of peace

Day 8:
          Matthew 3: 8: Bear fruit worthy of repentance
          Today we mark Peace in our Advent journey (hope, peace, joy, love, light) and what better way to begin that discussion then in Matthew 3, before this statement by John the Baptist, John is calling the Pharisees and Sadducees out with some harsh words.  And he gives this warning: Bear fruit worthy of repentance.  Throughout our Gospels we hear about bearing fruit – we are called to bear good fruit.  To bear good fruit we must live with intent.  We don’t have to be perfect, God isn’t asking that.  John doesn’t warn: bear good fruit always and never have a bad grape!  No, John says bear fruit worthy of repentance.  According to Strong “repentance” here means “a change of mind of something one has done.”  Bear fruit worthy of repentance.  We are being called out by John here to not only live our life with intent and responsibility but live it showing to others that when we do make mistakes we learn from them and change.  We do this by making amends and righting our wrongs.  Let us remember that we are called not just to change in our hearts but for all to see.  To let our relationship with the Divine change us.  Think Mr. Scrooge.

Day 9          Psalm 21: 13 Be exalted in your strength, LORD; we will sing and praise your might.
          Indeed we are called to sing God praise.  We are asked to worship God.  God has indeed asked this of us.  In this passage, the psalmist is asking God for something “be exalted in your strength;” another way to say it would be “rise up in might.”  They are in the psalm encouraging God to deliver a King and thus they will offer sing and praises.  Here it is a give and take: I will worship you if you show your worthiness to the world.  What an interesting thought.  The psalms are full of interesting thoughts.   But haven’t we all been there?  Oh God please do this…and I will forever do that…  A common bargain tool we use.  Yet our relationship with God isn’t a bargain or a give or take.  Our relationship with God is meant to be a foundation, one in which we are held accountable, not in which God is held accountable.  But that is why we love the psalms, the go places that only humans can go; they show us the vastness of human emotion and selfishness.  Today let us praise God’s might for all that God has already done in our lives – asked and not asked.  Let us look at our relationships with humans and see if there is someone who we have treated this way – only cared for them when they did for us or perhaps we feel they only care for us when we do for them – let us pray differently today for that person and that relationship.  Let us take a moment to pray to God that more come from that. 

Day 10:
          Romans 15: 17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God (NIV)
          In another translation this reads: I have reason to boast for my work for God (NRSV).  This is not simply Paul giving himself credit for all the good he is doing but instead he is giving credit to God.  Not taking credit ourselves is hard but remember to give credit to God is harder.  One church I knew spent a good portion of their time working hard out in the community but they didn’t tell anyone who they were with or where they were from.  Once they started wearing a logo shirt with the churches name on it, people started talking.  Why were they not glorifying God in all that they did?  Think about it, most people are simply good people; that doesn’t make you a Christian.  What makes you a Christian is that when you do these works, you do them in the glory of Christ Jesus.

Day 11:
          Matthew 12: 33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
          Yup we are back on fruit.  For a tree is recognized by its fruit.  If you were walking down the street and found two apples on the ground and looked up and saw three apple trees you would compare the fruits still on the other trees to find the tree the apples came from.  What type of fruit we produce matters in the world; if we are doing good or bad people can tell.  Yes we are called not to judge one another; but we are reminded throughout the Bible that God will judge.  Focus on doing good in the world and spreading that good in all you do and you will bear good fruit.  God isn’t asking each of us to change the world or do something grand; God is simply asking you to be the good in your own world, your own community, the people no matter how many that you greet every day. 

Day 12:
          Psalm 146: Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. ×
References for Psalms 146:5
6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. ×
References for Psalms 146:6
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free
          What words of comfort for us.  Blessed are we who seek the Lord.  Blessed are we who ask for help from our God.  For God sets us free!  Our hope is in our Sustainer.  WOW.   This is the season we seek comfort: through food and clothes; through family and familiarity; and yet this is also the time of year in which comfort escapes us.  That is because comfort is not found in the earthly; but in the Godly.  We are offered assurance in our faith that no matter what around us changes, God’s love remains the same and constant.  We find God because God is the familiar, God remains faithful forever.   This Advent, as you prepare for the birth of Christ for this familiar holiday in which family traditions remain strong think on your familiarity with God.  What ways do you see and feel God’s comfort around you?  What are your traditions in meeting God?

Day 13:  Psalm 146 8 the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. ×
References for Psalms 146:8
9 The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked
            Another passage of comfort; but as we reflect on peace this day I would like to point out the theological impact of this passage.  The Lord loves the righteous is one line pretty much no one would debate.  In this passage we hear this idea that despite human inadequacy we should trust God.  That all are welcome to trust God, even those outside the “norms” of society.  People who were blind or widow were in Biblical times seen as outsiders.  They often were left to beg on the streets or at outside the city gates.  Yet, in this passage they are lifted up and invited to trust in God.  Further it states the Lord will sustain those who are “less than” in society even the foreigners!  Such a big statement for a Hebrew; and for us!  Here we are at a point in our nation that we are questioning the “values” of our country and pointing fingers at those we deem as “others.”  We are defining people as “outside the norms” or “outside our society.”   We are often doing this with undertones of Christianity.  Yet, that is not what our Bible asks us to do.  Instead countless times, OK 5 times in the Psalms alone, we hear the words “justice for the oppressed/ food for the hungry.”  God is calling us to doing better by others, God isn’t asking us to judge them but instead trust our Lord and allow all those who trust to have a relationship.  All are worthy of a relationship with the Divine. 

Day 14:  Luke 3: 11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

          This is the season of giving.  As we approach Christmas we see advertisements to give all around us.  There are trees with names of Children in need; there are Salvation Army pots with ringers encouraging everyone to drop a few cents; there are churches pushes stewardship and of course there are stores asking you to “add a dollar” or “round up your bill” to give to whatever charity they are working with.  Although many of this might seem like ways to exploit you and the Scrooge in you may want to take hold, we are reminded in this passage why we give.  As Christians we are called to give, although not just once a year.  We are called to be aware of the people around us who may not have and do for them.  We are called to care for one another.  Although a relationship with God is personal.  Many passages in our NT call us into community with our Christians to care for each other.  This season we are reminded of those communities we belong to and are encouraged to care.  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent week 1

Advent Devotional

Use this this week to celebrate Advent and the upcoming Birth of Christ. Below is a devotional and at the beginning is the Advent Candle lighting words for this week.

Prepare to glorify the Lord
Blessed are those whose hope is in the Lord’s
John the Baptist said “anyone who has 2 shirts should share with one who has one.”
In generosity we glorify God’s name
God’s glory will soon be known
Reveal to us, O Lord, the world that knows you
Good news of Hope waits
We are prepared for all to feel God’s hope

Joshua 24: 15.   But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  

With the secularism of the Christmas season into a “holiday” season let us pledge ourselves to the service of the Lord.  Let us step back from the secular and find the sacred of these moments and the Christmas season.  Let us devote ourselves to the Christ child that is to be born.  I recently read on Facebook that there are 29 Holidays celebrated during the “Christmas season” and that is why we say “happy holidays” and not “Merry Christmas.”  That might be fine and I always advocate for respecting others but as we await Christ’s birth we are asked to make space for Christ in our life.  We are meant to examine the space we leave in our lives for God and more importantly for the love that God has for us through the gift of Christ and our salvation.  Soon, our Savior is born. Soon we will be reminded of the God that humbly walked amongst us.  Soon, we celebrate this joyous moment when God’s love for the world came to life.  Being a Christian is not always easy.  Setting ourselves outside the secular world and acknowledge our Lord and Savior are an important part of our Salvation.  We are called to not just live ordinary lives but as followers of Christ wherever that leads.  Let us this Advent season be reminded that, as Joshua did in our passage above, we must declare who are Lord is.  We must not get lost in the secular world to the point that the birth of Christ is nothing more than a holiday we celebrate.  For this is a gift beyond our imagine, beyond our understandings.  This is the greatest gift of our Creator’s love - the Christ child!

First Sunday in Advent:
Isaiah 2: 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord
Where do you draw the line between the Holy and the secular?  What does it mean to walk in the light of the Lord??  Today open yourself up to the light around you, God’s light.  Let God’s light shine in places you usually keep dark; perhaps work, school, a restaurant, your car - find God in someplace new and let the light of God shine.  Walk in the light of God means to allow God’s light to shine all around you, in you and through you.  It means that God is a part of all that you do.  Open yourself up to let this happen.

Day 2: Genesis 8:10-11
Genesis 8:10-11 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.
What a relief that olive branch was.  It didn’t mean it was over, it would still be several months before they got out of that ark; but the end was in sight.  Relief was on its way, it was coming.  God sends us olive leaves throughout our life; signs that all will be well.  Jesus is just that, humbly arriving as a baby.  Jesus is a sign and reminder that often we must wait for great things but that they do come - in their own way and in their own time.  That great things come to those who wait.  This advent we wait once more, for the birth of our savior.  What is it in your life that you await relief from?  Has God already sent you a olive leaf? Then rejoice.  

Day 3: Genesis 9: 13
Genesis 9: 13  I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
The best part about a rainbow is that it has perfect timing.  Rainbows only show up when the right amount of rain and sun are together; too much sunlight and it gone or too much rain clouds and no rainbow.  They are sign of hope after the rain.  This holiday, recall a moment that a rainbow, a sign of hope, appeared.  Perhaps a time when you knew all would be well thanks to a sign from God.  Christmas season is a time for us to not only celebrate the hope that comes through our faith but to share that hope with others.  It is a time for us to spread the love of God and to reminded everyone of the hope that comes with Christ’s birth.  Think about how you can bring a rainbow moment to someone else this season.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or big, sometimes hope comes in the smallest packages.  

Day 4: Isaiah 54: 10
Isaiah 54:10 10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
There are moments when we think “why God why?”  Especially as we enter Advent which is in December we are reminded of tragic national events like D-day or Sandy Creek.  We are also reminded of our own personal lost that has happened throughout our lifetime during this season of hope.  Bad things happen to good people.  Bad things happen in joyus moments and at happy times.  Bad things happen.  Too often when bad things we question God.  Too often when bad things happen our faith wavers.  Yet it is when bad things happen we must turn to God.  It is in turning to our faith that compassion is found.  The answers aren’t always there.  The bad things have still happened.  Yet compassion and love can be felt.  God’s hope can be a light in the darkness and a reminder that our mountains can be shaken but not God’s love for us.  This season of wait we are reminded that although we might wait for knowledge and answers for things we just don’t understand we can accept God’s compassion and love for us.  For God so loved the world that our God sent Jesus to humbly walk among us.  

Day 5: Isaiah 4: 5-6
Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glorya will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain

God is our refuge.  What a wonderful thought.  That God will create a hiding place for us and offer us protection.  Yet, we often take it upon ourselves to do everything for us don’t we?   We worry about money; we worry about all the things in life that create instability and yet we are called throughout our Bible to trust in God’s protection.  As we anticipate this Advent, we are reminded that God’s gift didn’t come as everyone expected the Messiah to but the reward was even better than anyone imagined.  We might not know what is going to happen when we trust God and things might not turn out as we planned but we are promised that for those who trust, refuge can be found.  This Advent season, trust and through that trust open yourself up to the miracles that await.

Day 6:     Isaiah 30: 26  The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.

The Light of God is all around us.  The light of Christ shines in and through our lives every day.  During Advent and the time leading up to Christmas there are movies, musicals, newspaper articles, personal stories all around us of different “Christmas miracles.”  Of God’s light shining in the world.  But Christmas is not the only time Jesus appears.  But during Christmas it feels 7x brighter for everyone - every day Christians to not-so-much believers - is in the Spirit.  Let us this holiday help that light shine brighter.  Give a little more.  Find the hope that lives within your life and share your story of hope with someone.  Allow the light of this holiday to fill you up, don’t be a Scrooge.  

Day 7:  Isaiah 40: 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

God is our shepherd.  During the Advent season of hope there can be darkness.  We remember the holidays of “old.” We remember the “good old days”  and all the people who are no longer here to celebrate.  Our families have changed, children have aged and nothing is like how it used to be.  Except God.  God has always been our Shepherd.  From the Old to the New Testaments, God is our Shepherd.  God keeps us, tends to us and in this passage we hear God carries us close to the Holy’s heart.  How powerful to know that.  Nothing in our life is the same year to year and even day to day; one happening can change that all.  But God doesn’t change.  Our relationship with God is always here.  Think about the stability that provides you and the comfort in knowing that you are in the Holy’s heart!