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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A *new way of looking at Advent

So if you are new to understanding advent or you need a new way of looking at it...here are my thoughts..

Much of how I see and interact with the Bible is based on relationships.  The Old Testament, especially everything before the prophets, is a combination of a bunch of different tribes expression of their relationship with the Divine.  What I mean by that is not in any way taking the "Holy" out.  What I do mean is that in our attempt as Humans to have a relationship with the great Creator we have been forced at one point or another to put into words (first verbally and then written) a relationship that is so powerful, so deep and personal that words usually don't give it justice.

And that is where the dilemma as Christians began as well...for to spread the Good News we have to do just that - spread it.  But that requires words and well we haven't done the best job learning, teaching and perhaps figuring out words.  That is why, when those of you who are seeking come into our space, we often worry or become stand off-ish...it isn't you it is that we are afraid you will ask a question we don't have the answer to or worse, won't be able to explain.
Most of us can't explain how we know that God is actually hearing our prayers - especially during a time when it seems no one is listening, but we can give you an example or two - and perhaps that is enough for your faith...

So back to my advent thoughts...Advent is a time for us to explore this relationship with God - our relationship with God as we anticipate the coming of that Baby Jesus.  For Jesus changes everything! Jesus birth marks the beginning of a new relationship with God that culminates at his death.  A relationship that is much more personal for God has now experienced humanity; a relationship that is based on grace and forgiveness instead of fear and awe.  This new chapter in humanities relationship with God, begins on Christmas morning and if that isn't something to celebrate, I don't know what is!

We mark this with a advent season that is full of anticipation and reflection.  The first Sunday in advent we hear the prophets begin to pave the way for this new relationship.  Perhaps this is the time that we begin to wonder what the season is really about.  Perhaps we are struggling with an emptiness that can't be filled or looking for the Divine presence around us.  This is the acknowledgment of the more that is to come - the realization that there is more to life then the material, more to Christmas then just giving gifts. 

And I leave you here...waiting for the next Sunday.  In contemplation over where your relationship with the Holy is at and hopeful that this is the prophetic voice reminding you that there is more for someday soon a savior will be born! Amen

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stewartship of the Earth

"This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." 1 Corinthians 4:1

So, what does it mean in today's society to be green? Or maybe the better question is what SHOULD it mean to be green.  Today's blog is much more like a rant, for I am just truly confused by our ability as humans beings to let others do our thinking.  Our mob mentality (*mob as in going with what the other majority are doing and saying and not mob as in the mafia), so Our mob mentality has led us to jumping on the bang wagon of some trendy and expensive "green" changes. 

I feel as a Christian, I am called to be the keeper of God's creation and as such am called to truly take care of this beautiful world.  I do believe that it matters how we treat this land and all its living creatures.  I hope that the beautiful landscapes will be seen by my children and theirs, as long as we occupy Earth.  And as long as I occupy Earth, I try to keep it in the best condition I know how.  First, I use cloth diapers and don't buy paper towels.  I try to use cloth napkins when possible and we have some cloth wipes as well.  Besides that I try to keep our water usage down and I am conscience when I buy and use products.

But here is what I don't understand:

1. Reusable Grocery Bags - First some are 15 dollars or more! Which makes me wonder where the money is going since it isn't going to the people who work in the factory!  Why use reusable grocery bags when you then BUY plastic garbage bags??  We use our grocery store bags (which is made from recycled plastic) as our garbage bags, that way we are putting less into the dump.

2. Light bulbs - the move to the energy efficient bulbs is great, and especially a nice IDEA but these bulbs require special disposal and it is NOT good for the environment if people are just trowing them away!!  Does everyone know this? I don't think so!!

3. New Appliances - Just because your old appliances aren't necessary energy efficient I don't understand buying NEW APPLIANCES if your old ones still work.  The carbon foot print that the "new" appliance made during production, deliver to store and then again to your house seems like it could be equal to using what you already had. 

So my advice is that if you want to be more green - start by recycling.  Turn of lights, unplug things that aren't in use or check your facets to make sure they aren't leaking.  Much of being green is common sense...and think twice when you throw something out.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

stone soup blessings!

So recently well looking around the internet, I stumbled on a reference to the book "Stone Soup."  I loved that book as a kid - the concept of two men - strangers - in a town making soup with nothing but water and stone and yet after each encounter with the towns people they manage to get a new ingredient.  And Voila!  They have just made an amazing soup and more importantly a soup that can be shared and feed the rest of the towns people.

These two men could have gone hunger that night.  Those two men could've been con-artist and after cleverly getting the ingredients taken the soup to go - but NOPE...instead they fed the whole of the village.  Everyone feasted and no one went hunger.

What a great reminder for us on Thanksgiving - that it was in celebration of the Native Americas sharing with our ancestors food so that the winter wasn't as harsh.  Thanksgiving isn't just about our blessings and remembering them but it is about sharing - sharing our blessings, sharing our love, sharing our time.  Thanksgiving is about feast in joy and hopes that for one night, one day, everyone can be feed. 

As a teenager, my mom, sister and I lived far away from family and so we "made" family each thanksgiving.  Finding new and different people to invite to our table.  Inviting random strangers, foreigners in this country and displaced people who like us lived far from family.  You never knew who was coming, you never knew if food would be done on time, but you always knew that for one night we could feast and have fellowship together a group of strangers.  And that is what thanksgiving is about...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christ the King

So this Sunday marks the end of the church calendar year. The beginning is of course Advent (the weeks leading up to Christmas).  On this Sunday we celebrate "Christ the King."
You see the calendar year of the church is set up so that we celebrate in fullness the cycle of the Christian faith - we remember the anticipation and waiting of the early Hebrews as they heard from their prophets that one day things would be better and the concept of a Messiah took shape.  We remember the birth, life, death, resurrection, the period following his resurrection, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the ascension of Christ.into Heaven and finally the idea that Christ will reign again at his second coming. This cycle is broken up by "ordinary time" which is, my friends, anything but ordinary.  Although this "ordinary time" is free from any "holidays" it is an especially important time for it is during these Sundays that we are called to respond.  It is in these Sundays that our story gets intertwined with the story of Christ.  It is on these Sundays that our faith is called out. 
The summer / autumn months have the most of these "ordinary" days with Christ the King being the buffer between these "ordinary" days and the advent season.  Christ the King brings the cycle to full circle: the totality of our Christian story ending with the idea of the end of days when our Lord will one day take a throne.  However, this day (Christ the King Sunday) is also asking us to respond to the here and now.

For, it is asking us to proclaim Christ as our King - not only our King in the realm of Heaven but more importantly our King in the here and now - our King today!  For we are called in this life to serve God - we are called as Christians to live out a faithful life in the here and now! We are called not to live by the standards set forth by the secular world but the standards set forth by the God whose love and grace should be available to all.

If we are living with Christ as our King - then we living fully into Christ. We should be blind not to the people around us, not to the injustices that our society creates but instead blind to judgment.  Living into loving each other truly and with a full heart.  We are called as Christians to transcend the pettiness of this life.  So I challenge you this Holiday season to LIVE into Christ's Lordship.  Allowing your Spirit to be transformed by love and grace - not by money and presents.  Be thankful of your blessings but don't count your blessings by your material possessions but instead by the love and memories you share with those around you.  Don't allow the material needs of this season get you down or fill you up but instead walk outside the boundaries of the Earthly realm and all the secular needs that you bow down before and instead declare Christ as your King bringing to all you meet a joyful heart and a season full of hope. 

Today too many of us have allowed other rulers to get in the way of our King.  Today we have even lost the concept of Christ as our true King.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finding Hope in the loss of Bobby

On Friday, we lost a family member and wonderful man to a tragic accident.  This unexpected, one might say un-timely, death has left many of us without words to console for there are no words that can express the deep sadness that we feel let alone that his wife, parents and close friends feel.  It is in times like this that our hearts in rage ask "why?" and it is in times like this that we have two reactions - either we turn to God in complete trust believing that there must be a reason and holding on to this faith so tightly or we turn away from God angry at a God who "let this happen."

I feel that there is another alternative.  Much like the first, we should be turning to God to find encouragement, hope, trust but most of all understanding, compassion and love. 

You see, in God's humbled walk amongst us, Jesus lived fully into humanity.  This fully human Jesus walked, ate, drank, loved and died with us in order to save humanity; but in doing so brought a deeper understanding of humanity to the divine.  God surely does know our pain and our sorrow.  God surely knows our struggles and our prayers.  God also knows our anger and our shock.  And God grieves with us when our hearts are heavy and our burdens too great. We can allow God to sit with us and cry, for God knows our tears.

In Genesis, Jacob wrestles on the banks with an unnamed stranger until morning.  This stranger is God.  After Jacob's wrestling with God, Jacob wouldn't give in, but the stranger wounded him, blessed him and then disappeared. When we are in our darkest moments* struggling with life, struggling to understand the big "why?" we should be comforted with the fact that God is not going to leave us; that though we might be scared, forever changed by these moments, we walk away from them a better, bigger and a stronger person.  We walk away from those moments with God by our side and with more love to share.  We are no longer afraid, angry or even sad but we have found the place of comfort.

Sure, we might be in shock right now - this may be our Jacob moment struggling with God at the river bank.  But we should know that there is hope that we will one day see the dawn and be able to move on.  That this struggle which seems so great right now will diminish.  We will forever carry this loss with us, as Jacob was forever scared, but light will creep into our lives again and we will bask in the sunlight once again - ready for a new day.

As always with the loss of a loved one, the memories will flash in and out.  There will be good days and bad and even years later we will find ourselves missing them.  But despite this grief we have for the loss we suffer, we trust in our faith in Jesus Christ that the dead shall rise.  That through his death and resurrection, all may live in the Kingdom of God.  That one day this Kingdom will be made available to all.  Until then, we must strive to make our here and now the Kingdom - loving one another, showing compassion and understanding and most of all trusting in our God who created the heavens and the earth and with whom all shall live again.

But today, we are still wresting with God on the river banks - wrestling to understand - why?  But let me assure you that God did not point a finger down on Friday morning and will Bobby's death.  Nor did he will the driver to feel blamed.  God was not the accident - God was not the cause nor the determinate of that tragic moment but instead God was found in the responders, the love that has been poured out on the family, the support that everyone feels.  God is in those prayers that people are sending and in the hearts of all those who mourn.  Although Milo doesn't understand now, I do believe he will.  His father will live on through him, through the love that Bobby showed to everyone and through the shared memories we all have.  Bobby was a quiet, calming presence with a kind heart and a welcoming smile who will always be remembered by those blessed lives he touched. 

My prayers are with Melanie as she struggles to find a way to make it through the next few days.  Know that we all love you! That God hasn't left you and that Bobby who didn't have to suffer is now living in peace.  And that one day the light of the dawn will shine and there is hope.  But today, find the hope in the love that surrounds you!

*Gen 32 (as Jacob thought he was: he was returning to a brother he thought was anger with him and running from a father-in-law who was anger with him.  He had been sly, a bit hot tempered and most of all cunning.  He had not been acting righteous or what we would consider God-fearing)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

finding the Holy

so as I was preparing for Sunday's sermon on Joshua I was touched by Joshua 24:26 in which Joshua placed a rock in order to mark the place where they made their new covenant and the place where they sat in God's presence.  And this isn't the first time.  Countless times in the OT our fore-parents (although mostly fathers) placed stones/rocks to signify places they encountered God.  It was these rock alters the signify where the Holy and humanity met. 
This was before temples and churches and thus were the foundations of them and the building blocks of our faith

Today, we have taken a step back - maybe because of the buildings - and we have forgotten about the Holy in all of creation!

So, I encourage you - or perhaps it is challenge you - to find a rock and mark the place you in your life where you encounter God. - at the kitchen table, in your car, in your favorite chair, at your bed side table...wherever you greet the Holy. 

And if you are just beginning to greet the Holy place it as a reminder to yourself to settle yourself enough to be in God's presence...evoking the Holy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Matt 25:1-13

So I have always had a bit of a problem with this text because of my interfaith work, my preaching on us loving one another and trying to treat others how we would like to be treated and of course for my view that salvation is available to all.  This passage seems to do away with a lot of that...and so, I am here to deconstruct this difficult to sallow passage.
First: let us look at who Matthew is preaching to.  Matthew is preaching to a Jewish community - Hebrews.  He is teaching those who understand the Old Testament and to those who have been circumcised. Matthew is preaching to a community that is some-what wealthy.  Matthew is always trying to prove that Jesus is legit, authentic and worth following.  We see much of that in today's passage.
So it shouldn't be disturbing or even shocking to us that the wise bridesmaids do not help the foolish ones.  For Matthew is trying to drive the point home: we are each responsibly for our own Salvation and we have to take personal responsibility for our relationship with God. Just as the bridesmaids who didn't bring extra oil had to take responsibility.  You see, it was the bridesmaid who traditional led the bride and groom into the banquet, lighting the way.
Now wait a minute there is no mention of a Bride in this story. That is because Jesus here is the groom and the bride is the church - the body of Christ - all of us!
Here comes the difficult part for me - Christ says he doesn't know the foolish bridesmaid when they come back.  First this could be a reminder that our faith has to be real.  It isn't about just going to church on Sunday mornings but living out our faith.  Earlier Jesus says that if we proclaim his name, he will know ours...when death comes we can't con anyone - our true relationship with the divine will be made known.
And since we don't know when death or the end times will come, we must live into Christ at every moment.

I have another thought on this. God has called us to bring Christ to the world. Christ is often called the light of the world.  We are to let the light of Christ shine through us so that all may know Christ through us.  This means that as Christians we must always remember that we are ambassadors for God. And further we should be letting people know this! If we fail to keep our light shinning then we fail God.  We shouldn't be too pushy or try to run other people's faith for faith is truly a personal thing.  However, we must remember to give credit where credit is due and because God is in our lives, our lives are changed.  We can't forget to share that. 

Now what about those who don't know Christ?  Or what about those who haven't proclaimed Christ name?  OR what about those who still haven't accepted the salvation that Christ has to offer because they are wrestling with their self worth?  Isn't this passage a passage of doom for them??
NO!  And this is where we as Christians haven't to stop making the damming jumps!  For just we must read the passages as a whole - not just the words here in the Bible but looking at the context of it that is what makes it the Word of God.

Matthew here is preaching to a crowd of Jews - he is trying to once again convince them or perhaps just encouraging them to keep their faith in Christ.  Meanwhile they are living in two worlds the world of the Hebrews who are Jewish and the world of the Hebrews who believe in Christ.

We can look at Paul for help on this one, for Paul reminds us that those who live by Christ shall be judged by Christ and those who live through the law shall be judged by the law  leaving room for all the seekers in the world to fear not we do not damn you for your curiosity. keep on exploring!