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, December 28, 2011

Christmas

So, although the stores have put all the Christmas stuff on clearance and many of you have bought Christmas gifts for next year - the Church is technically still celebrating Christmas.  For Christmas is a season...not just a day.  But enough with technicalities.  

So what is Christmas all about?  Well for one - the "religion" behind Christmas is not what we have come to know as the Christmas story and is far from the nativity scene we all display proudly this time of year.  I believe for most of us, celebrating Christmas is not about being authentic to Christ but is instead what the oral traditions have made it.

Yup the early Church fathers established this holiday to compete with the popular pagan holiday and in order to encourage more people to convert - is this a bad thing? No, many missionaries did and do the same thing - they help cultures understand how an already established celebration can in fact be religious - or Christian in nature.  We can think of the Church fathers as we will, but the bottom line is that by moving Christ's birthday (for we all know through scholarly understanding that it was probably closer to May) they were blending a new understanding into an common tradition in order to evangelize. 

Therefore, I am very confused about those who are campaigning to put Christ back in Christmas or for those who are upset that we have "lost" Jesus out of this holiday...for I wonder every year if Jesus was ever truly a part of this "holy day."  Let us face the Biblical facts...Christ birth narrative is pretty much a skeleton compared to the oral tradition we hold.  Did you know that in the Bible there is no Inn Keeper - only the words "for there was no room in the inn"  WOW!  And there are in more mind-bending facts that we have only in our oral tradition of this birth.  Also, back to the Bible for a moment - only Matthew and Luke have any reference to Jesus birth.  And their details don't always add up.  Now, am I saying this to debunk Christ? NO NOT AT ALL but what I am saying is that, as the story of Christ began to spread and as people began to wrap their mind around the whirl wind of his death, resurrection and ascension clearly the murkiness around his birth became an issue - how could he be both divine and human?  When did he become divine? 

With that said...do I believe that Jesus was born to Mary - conceived by the Holy Spirit? Yes I do! Do I believe that Jesus was born in a manger? Shepherds were the first to hear? Well, that part, I'm undecided on.  Was Jesus born to a humble family and born into poverty? Yup.

Do saying any of this make Christ less meaningful? NOPE...at least not to me. For my faith isn't in the actuality of the events that took place but in the actuality of who Jesus is, for I know the end of the story - God Incarnate - Emmanuel - God with us.  And it doesn't down play the generosity of our Creator who through Jesus' death on the cross made us all worthy (despite ourselves) of forgiveness and grace. 

AS FOR CHRISTMAS?  At least today - Christmas is a time of year when more people then ever seem to be open to the Spirit of God working - when more then ever people are willing to experience the God winks in their lives and see them for what they are...more then ever Christmas is a time when all are OPEN to the generosity of God - the forgiveness and grace that Jesus teaches and the Love that the Spirit spreads. 

Thus Christmas - in all its secular definition should be celebrated by all believers, by all seekers and those who just don't know. The purpose of Christmas day isn't to give Jesus a birthday cake and present celebrating his 2000+ birthday; but is instead about spreading all that Jesus gave to us - through love, generosity and peace.  Christmas is about celebrating the Christ who dwells with in us and who works through us throughout the year OR perhaps for the seekers out there it is a time of year for you to feel the God you seek working within your own life.  

Christmas isn't found in the details of the Bible or even in the truth behind Jesus' life but instead is found in the hearts and minds of Christians hopefully throughout the year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

advant 4 is a little late..

So last Sunday and thus this week we mark the 4th Sunday/ week in Advent.  This Sunday is marked with the craziness that is usually life - last minute Christmas shopping and tons of house preparations - cleaning, organizing, making beds, doing laundry, ect... 
For us as Christians I can't help but think of journey this week.  For each "character," if you will, takes a journey - Mary and Joseph journey to Bethlehem, the Shepherds journey to see the infant Jesus and the Magi journey trusting in their faith and following the stars.  And this is so true to each of us - for life is one big journey.  We take many paths along the way and there are many celebrations to mark those but in the end, it is all one big journey.
On this journey is our relationship with the Divine or our Spiritual journey.  We are given plenty of opportunities to renew and strengthen this relationship - plenty of times to begin even. 
Christmas / Advent is one of the few times a year when we truly open ourselves to the Spirit working in the world and allow ourselves to follow and be used by said Spirit - often referred to as the Christmas Magic.

So let us let this Christmas magic and wonder open for us a new path for our Spirit to trod.  A new place for us to find the Holy in our every day. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ramblings On why baby Jesus and Why a pink candle on the third Sunday...

Now as a Christian I realize that some of our language is a bit confusing and I also understand that as we "celebrate" our calendar year and highlight the "makers" of our faith to someone new it might seem a bit weird.  Like why do we talk about Jesus' birth as if he hasn't yet been born?  When we celebrate anyone else' birthday we count the years of their life not re-enact them as if they were just born.  So why continue to each year, celebrate the birth of a baby who happen to one day become our savior?


Well that is a loaded question with probably more then one answer.  But here is my answer.  Because, we as Christians celebrate our calendar not just as a calendar of dates but as a Spiritual journey.  The whole of the calendar year is a Spiritual practice - a walk if you will.  That begins now, with the expected birth of Christ.  During this phase of this Spiritual walk, we are in quite anticipation opening ourselves up to a new relationship with God and our community.  Christmas season brings people together and Advent reminds us of the importance of relationships.  So we are opening ourselves up to God - hopefully each year as we continue to grow and realizes the changes that are happening in our own lives we take some time during advent to truly ask ourselves what does it mean for Jesus to be my savior and how can I continue to make room for Jesus in my life?  What can I do today to be a better Christian?


So usually* on the third Sunday in advent we light the pink candle.  This candle represents Joy - depending on the litany can also be the Mary candle, but either way it breaks into the Advent season a simple reminder.

I really relate Advent season and the expecting coming of Jesus to an actual pregnancy.  Emotionally, much of advent is the sum total of the expected excitement that usually takes 9 months.  During pregnancy parents begin to formulate a new relationship with each other and this new being growing inside.  There is a lot of expectations of who this baby will turn out to be and what that will mean for the parents/family.  But there is also, worry that everything will be OK.  There is an underlying understanding that although this miracle is growing and will soon be here until the actual day of birth there is something still a bit surreal about it.  For anyone who has suffered the loss of a pregnancy knows that the emotions during a second only mere the emotions of advent even more...still anticipation.

We have been talking about building up our relationships with God and others - that by working on our relationships with others we are building up our relationship with God and that by trusting God a bit more, we are releasing control and hopefully creating new relationships with others - it is a two way path.  Advent is a time for this, a time for us to reflect on and prepare for the birth of Christ and all that Christ means to us.  This is a time for us to truly look at our lives and ask ourselves where God is and how God fits.  Just as new parents adjust where the new child fits into their lives, we are in quite anticipation preparing ourselves for Jesus arrival.

Granted we already know how the story ends and who Jesus becomes.  And for some of us we have already made this room for Jesus in our lives.  And that is what is behind the pink candle.  That amongst this advent season we are reminded of how the story ends - Jesus' Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection.  We are reminded of the Joy that comes on that Christmas morning when there with his parents Jesus came into this world. A baby.

Probably enough for now and I might reword this later this week....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My voice, My story, My Christian Faith

 So, I am always struggling with the Christian voice that is heard throughout the world.  Media does a great job showing the extremist or the bold sides...but what about those of us who are somewhere in the middle?  The other reason we lost our voice is that we have failed at teaching people how to communicate and speak on their faith. We have relied on this idea that by "living" a good and moral life those around us will "know" we are Christians; but that is wrong, for many live out a good and moral life but are not followers of Christ. 

And so the time has come, when people don't realize we exist.  People don't realize that their are sensible, educated, loving and genuine Christians out there doing God's work in their community.  And so, here is my "advertisement" if you will for all of us who find our voices lost...

Here is my voice, my story:

http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/ExAxxB7Qxu138ETedkU6TYESnGphAZZS/revmj-1273657-advertise/

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

John the Baptist

Mark 1:1-8 (go to bible.crossswalk.com or biblegateway.com for the verses)

I have always been struck by John the Baptist for two reasons:
 The first reason is I am amazed at John's ability to take the back seat to Jesus.  During the time of John B (for short) and Jesus there were others trying to claim the messiah title and others "Jewish" sects popping up. The people following John B were very loyal to him and many were following him as if he were the savior / the messiah.  Many confused him as such and YET he continued to point them into the direction of Jesus and did not take credit for himself.  He not only followed his faith and trust in God but he didn't let others get so caught up in him that they forgot that he was not the END point but instead the POINTER to Jesus.  Today, many Pastors and Jesus followers often fall into this trap - that they on their mission for Christ become the center of their story instead of pointing to God.  That the Church becomes more about the Pastor and less about Jesus.  Often this happens because the people push it to happen and some times because the Pastor lets it happen.  This is very wrong - I am not just saying this for those of you who go to churches out there but also for those of you who are still searching for you don't want to get trapped by this.  John the B was loyal not only to his relationship with God and his mission but also to who he was as a person - his role.  His role was to prepare the way for Christ, his role was to be a marker.  As we are waiting once again for the birth of Christ what is it that helps us to be loyal to his season as oppose to loyalty to the presents? or material goods?

Second:
John B would have been considered to be a bit odd - maybe "crazy" in today's world - but eccentric at the least.  How would we have reacted to him today?  In our building up of our relationship with the Holy his HOLIday season, how do we show our trust in God when our judgment and secular thoughts get in our way?  How do we pick out those people around us who are pointing us to a stronger relationship with God? Or maybe more importantly to a deeper understanding of the Holy around us?


Just some food for thought this week. As we are preparing for our Christmas day - however we celebrate the birth of our savoir...As we are exploring our new relationship with God.