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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Let's READ the Bible with CLEAR eyes


So the one belief that is doing the most damage to our Christian faith is the belief that God spoke English and that the Bible was written in English.  Sure the bible no matter what language is the Word of God but LETS be real and face the fact that Jesus' spoke Aramaic and that the Bible was written in different times and although in Hebrew and Greek - the styles and dialectics of each book make them unique.  God has not ordained any of the English translations as better then the others - and there are thousands of different English translations.  This is a testimony to the fact that it is difficult to translate the nuances of definitions and translations. 
This DOES not make the Word less valuable or LESS authentic but to me MORE! For it forces us to have a true and meaningful conversation with the Word.  A conversation which forces us to really hear God as oppose to only hearing our own will.

With that said, I thought I would bring in Luke today.  For we are in Lent so why not discuss where the traditions of lent started.  Matt, Mark and Luke all have their own variation of the Wilderness story.  Mark only has a few versus.  What is interesting in Matt and Luke but more pronounced in Luke are some things I think will SURPRISE YOU.

First: Jesus might have had MORE then 3 temptations.  In Luke especially it is clear that he may have had temptations for all 40 days and not just the three biggies we hear about at the end.

Second: There might have been more then 40 days.  In the Greek it is unclear and it comes out in the translations here.  You see Jesus fasted for 40 days and after his fasting, the devil came.  So the devil could have come on the 41st day - or the 40th day.  The temptations from the Devil could have lasted longer then one day as well - maybe one each day.  I realize that it may seem like I am reading A LOT INTO this but I would like to counter that instead I am pointing out the things we have been SURE of are things that aren't so SURE.  We often make assumptions or hold beliefs or truths to be in the Bible that aren't really there.

Third: Either Jesus was hallucinating the conversation with the devil OR the devil is versed in the Hebrew Bible.  Either are feasible.   We can all a test to the inner struggle of temptation! But we can also assume the the devil knows the Hebrew Bible - if that is the case then imagine what that says for where we find evil around us?  And how difficult it can be find.

Four: The most shocking revelation may be found at the end of Luke's version. The devil left Jesus for a more opportune time.  The devil didn't give up and would be back.  How true is that about temptation?  In Matthew it says that the angels attended to him but not here, here the devil is awaiting until a better time - a more vulnerable time. That to me is a very telling statement.

I hope that we learned from this blog that what we think is in the Bible and what is actually there is often two different things AND this means that we need to read with OPEN eyes and hearts and minds ready for discussion, question and conversation.  WE could never accept something as Biblical truth just because we read it in one translation, in one moment and without conversation.  


Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." 4 Jesus answered him, "It is written, "One does not live by bread alone.' " 5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." 8 Jesus answered him, "It is written, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.' " 9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, "He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' 11 and "On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.' " 12 Jesus answered him, "It is said, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' " 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lenten Thoughts

I am always struck on Ash  Wednesday about the ash tradition.  Did you know that traditionally these ashes that are used to place the sign of the cross on your forehead are the burnt ashes from last years psalms from psalm Sunday. 

This is amazing!  On Psalm Sunday we mark Jesus' triumphal march into Jerusalem.  Jesus was met by the crowds who were excited to have this Messiah arrive.  They laid psalm along the ground so that Jesus didn't have to touch the ground.  It was only a few days later when Jesus took the long walk up to Golgotha and the crowds that marched him in were the same crowds that sentenced Jesus to death.
This was because Jesus wasn't the Messiah they expected - they thought the messiah would restore the Earthly Hebrew Kingdom. 

I challenge you to think about where you want your Lenten Journey to take you - and where you would like to be on Good Friday.  We should be working on our relationship with God so that we will not be those who crowd around Jesus when things are going well but leave our faith when our Good Friday's come. 

So this Lenten season...ask yourself where are you going to be on Good Friday?  Willing to stand with Jesus or against?  Our Good Friday's come each time someone speaks against God - or worse when someone hurts people in the name of God.  Our Good Friday's are all around us.  Let us remember that God didn't leave Jesus during any of his trails it was humans who let him down.  Let us not let him down today!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

the CHNAGE we need and the transformation of Church that COULD come

So an amazing thing happened this morning - many of the churches in our small upstate NY town participated in a pulpit swap.  And I'm pretty sure it went amazing! We had 2 non-denominational, 2 Presbyterian, 1 Methodist and a Baptist involved! WOW!  We had 5 men and 1 women (guess who?) preachers take each other's pulpits and spread Christ's message.  How powerful.

This made me really feel like I am living out the life of Christ and I hope was a huge reminder for everyone that although we have our differences we are working for the same God.  Right now, too many churches and church people are fighting over differences.  Right now too many people are living the Christ out of the Christian message as they spread evil. Too many churches are doing more harm then good in the name of God and this has to stop.

And so I am publishing my sermon on here.  I usually don't put up my written sermon for it is meant to be heard not read.  I do hope you get something out of it.   I am sorry in advance for any gross spelling errors as this is usually "glanced at" and not meant to be taken seriously in written form.
My hope from this sermon is that we will all rethink - those who go to church and those who don't about our attitudes as Christians and really begin to live the life a Christ - a life that practices forgiveness when we are confronted with the need.  A life that practices God's love and living into grace.  A life far from the evil and hate that tear down the foundations of our churches.  I don't think that the institutional church is no longer relevant but I do think that for it to continue to be relevant it needs to own up on it's failures.  God is not the CHURCH and thus the church is full of failure and sins.  We must repent and be transformed not only as individuals but as churches in order to restore our communities.


Although many of us believe that the “hey-day” for our Churches was during the 50’s but the reality is that since WWII the churches have been in trouble.  You see, as Phyllis Tickle puts it that is when the church became the “other pleasure.”  This is when society changed, women started to feel the freedom of choosing their vocation and of earning their own money.  Men came back from war – and we weren’t acknowledging Post-traumatic stress syndrome.  Society changed.  Churches grew because women, mothers, home makers needed something outside the home after the men returned from war.  Churches grew because they were the center of our social groups – Churches didn’t grow because faith grew, churches didn’t grow because they did anything – it was society that pushed the growth in churches.  And our churches relished in our hey-days. 
I want to emphasis that although the church played an important role in peoples lives then, the churches did nothing but own this.  We as Churches lived into our new found numbers and relished in the children that filled our churches.  But our strengthen in numbers and finances as a church universal and individual churches then led to this alarming assumption that that would be the churches forever.  So today – we fast forward to the fact that we are still in decline.  That these baby-boomer children are missing from our pews and that their children in most cases are unchurched.  We as the church universal no longer holds a prominent spot in today’s family life.  And the language of church has become a foreign language.  And this has left our Churches stuck with large buildings, large bills and few people filling our pews.  This has left our churches in a frantic place trying to survive and burning out our leadership.  And we are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off confused, dazzed and fighting with each other.
I believe there is still hope.  I believe that we can reclaim the Christian faith.  But before we can grow, before we can truly change this direction of growth we need to CHANGE BE TRANSFORMED.  We need to rethink how we live into our Christian faith and let Christ transform our lives.  For it is through this transformation that Christians will grow not only individuality in spirit but as a whole in the church.
You see, society has continued to change.  And the most important change is this shift to secularization and this fear of speaking about religion in public.  But unlike the media and the over hyped “war on religion” title that is often given to this shift – I believe that it is of our own fault and our own making.  We failed ourselves and until we acknowledge this and stop blaming everyone else we aren’t going to be able to move on.
You see, people have left the churches for many reasons – but there reasons for not returning have startling similarities.  And the IMPORTANT PART is that in most cases it is because of the distortion of the Christian image.   
In Paul’s teachings today we hear of a question concerning the right actions of the diet.  You see it was customary for people to sacrifice or bless an animal in the name of a god, a pagan God, and then share that feast with those around them.  This meal would be a meal to honor this god.  Although those with the Christian knowledge did not believe in this God and would in no ways we participating in the feast in honor of this God but instead in order to eat a decent meal.  Paul says that as a Christian you should still refrain from participating because to those who do not know better you are worshiping another God – or committing idolatry.  Especially in the eyes of a weaker Christian who doesn’t have the same Spiritual knowledge!  Hmm this is pretty intense…
As role models, even if you understand something or have greater knowledge, as an ambassador for Christ to the world we must first think about those who don’t!  Since the language of Christianity is no longer a language that is understood to all then we especially have to be careful now!  As ambassadors of Christ, we have let this Christian image become distorted and as Paul warned in his letter through this mis-understandings those who are weaker in knowledge have succumbed to believing in wicked things over the true message from Christ. 
Let us think about the image of Christ that we have let the world see in the last half century. 
·        We condemned divorcees that left abusers.  We made these women feel shame for getting themselves and their children out of that kind of destructive environment.  And we wonder where their children are? 
·        We failed to keep up when women began to work – during the 70’s and early 80’s we did nothing to help the lock-key children – and we wonder why surveys say this age group is most like NOT to believe in intuitions?
·        We let the phrase “we don’t talk about religion and politics” become the normal – for WE as religious people said this very phrase and taught our children.  And we now claim that the secular world as declared war on us?
·        We have done so much in-fighting in my lifetime (last 30 years), we have spent so many resources on politics of our denominations that we have failed spreading the message of Christ.  And we wonder why people think we are hypnotics.
·        We have jumped on any and all band-wagons to get people in our pew. And now  wonder how it could be that unchurched people don’t believe we are authentic.
·        But most importantly Worship and education has failed to give people the words to express our own faith.  We, as mainliners – as established denominations – have failed to give voice and authority over to each person in order to truly spread the message of Christ.  Which has left most of us silent to the overwhelming voices of the extreme.
And we as role models, we have let this Christian image become this way.  The secular world did not declare war on us! We went quietly and without a fight and NOW that we have found ourselves in captivity and we realize as we look around at our churches that the news of church growth looks dim.  NOW in the 13th hour we still are failing to take blame.  And to those who are weaker in Spirit to all those who don’t know the language of the Church – it looks like we are eating the meat blessed and offered to other Gods.  It looks like we have made an idol out of our church buildings and our pastors.  It looks like we don’t practice what we preach.  It looks like we are uneducated – or simple and ignorant folks! And that's not true! It looks like we are people who care more about a few pieces of paper then the actual life of Christ.  It looks like we aren’t good for anything especially since we have limited resources to even help those in need.  And essentially we aren’t doing much to change that.  For we are still proscribing to the same solutions – we are still doing business as usual in hopes that the world would change.
I am sure we all know the John Mayor song “waiting…waiting for the world to change…” it is essential about how many younger people feel trapped by the older generations and feel that they have to wait for the world to change.  Our churches have been feeling trapped by the secular world for some time and have continued to “wait” but our time is up! We cannot wait any longer – the world isn’t going to change unless we do something to change it.
So what is it that I propose we do?  What are the answers?  Well I wish I had all the answers but I do have the most important one: Live as a Christian Model.  Be transformed by the spirit of God in such away that you live out the life of Christ.  You see, we as Christians aren’t spreading the message of LOVE, forgiveness and Grace.  We as Christians continue to spread the negative messages when we keep silent on our faith.  When we fail to offer peace. 
I worked with this youth adviser for several years.  He had a self declared anger problem.  And would often feel anger towards people who weren’t of like mind.  He was very justice minded.  One summer on a mission trip with our youth group we were over come by the attitudes of several youth in another youth group.  During an adult discuss, it got pretty heated but many of the adults advisers to this youth group felt the same as the kids.  They weren’t defending the kids – they agreed with them.  Our youth groups motto for mission trips was “live simply so others can simply live” and so you can imagine the anger that my youth adviser had to the demands of some of this kids and adults.  That night, in our individual youth meetings, it was clear that we needed to forgive them and ask for forgiveness for we would never see eye to eye but we could work together to see this mission through.  We each made a peace crane with the words Forgive and Love on the wings.  The next morning at breakfast we placed them on the plates of the other youth group and served them breakfast.  That simple gesture, turned the course of the mission week and we all learned a lesson.  The lesson for me was that often in our strive to live out the Christina life we fail at the biggest test of all!  We quickly judge, we quickly place our interpretations on others and we quickly move into conflict.
Jesus not only lived IN THE WORLD he was OF the world.  Jesus approached each disciple differently and Jesus treated each person honoring them as an individual.  There is no cookie-cutter Christian form.  There is no black line drawn across each decision we make.  We live in the world and we are of the world. The world is a messy place and the world is a complicated place.  But forgiveness isn’t that complicated.  Forgiveness and love are powerful!
It is amazing that we have taken this step today to bring our churches together in the love of Christ for the betterment of our community.  It is great that we can begin to work together for the greater purpose of spreading God’s message.  But we have a lot of work.  For there are a lot of unchurched people out there ready to see the true image of God through the ambassadors of Christ – us.  We have a lot of work to do to restore our image to one not wrought with evil but love.  We have a lot of work to mend the bridges burnt by our own actions done in the name of Christ.  We have a lot of work to do – but it can’t be done until we acknowledge our own silent voices – acknowledge the hurt we have done – ask God for forgiveness and begin spreading forgiveness and love.  And so today, as you leave.  Pick up a peace crane.  Write your own words on the wings – be it love, forgiveness or grace.  Be it “I’m sorry” or “Let’s try again” Be it for a family member or a former church member.  Be it for a co-worker or a community neighbor.  Let us begin to model the true Christian message.  Let us live into our call as Christians and acknowledge the authority that we have through our understanding of Christ message.  Let us build up the Church through the foundations that Jesus set for us instead of using those foundations to tear down. Let us be transformed by the power of forgiveness and let that trans-formative love pour out of us to all those we meet. Amen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

talisman

So first off I wanted to say sorry for being so late in posting this week!  Sticky fingers, my 17month old daughter decided to get involved with my laptop and only one survived the encounter.  Although I am pleased it was her, I am saddened for my laptop and my ticket to the internet.

I have been thinking a lot lately of the symbol of the cross and of course the triquetra.  Two symbols of the church and of the trinity.  Two symbols that even those who don't attend church tend to like.  Especially the triquetra which can be scene tattooed on many people who feel spiritual but not religious.  So what is it about these symbols that makes us want to wear them, tattoo them and enjoy them? 

I entitled this "Talisman," because a talisman is an object that is given special powers - like a lucky rabbits foot or in many cases the cross.  But does the trinity symbol or the cross hold special powers for the person in possession of it? Should it? 

I believe that we are getting close to misusing these Christian symbols to be more then just reminders of our faith or of the sacrifice of Christ.  They are becoming talisman and are believed to hold a special power for those wearing it.  Either we believe they ward off super natural beings - of course vampires are afraid of those possessing a cross! Or they bring you protection from our God. 

My clear rant this week is this: we are as a society reducing Christianity to a God who if on your side will grant your every wish and who if not on your side will show you hellish wrath.  We are reducing our faith to a faith that gives to us everything we ask and have reduced the very images of the empty cross to a power symbol for God's favor.  This is just crazy!  The only power the cross yields is the reminder of the amazing power of FORGIVENESS a gift given by Christ.

So, let us rethink our imagery and what it is saying about how and what we believe.  Let us be reminded this week that the Cross is more then a lucky rabbits foot and that God does not grant every one's wish.  That God isn't living into our every will but instead we are living into GOD's will!

Let us realize that no life - even that life lived by a Christian, is perfect.  For life is MESSY.  God isn't there to grant wishes or make a fairy tale ending for us.  Heck, even the Good News of Jesus Christ isn't a fairy tale is it?  But instead, we have a God who cared so much about us that he sent his son - the HOLY has offered forgiveness and grace instead of fear and anger.  The Holy has offered us life over death.  The Holy has offered a constant loving presence in our times of trouble and someone to walk along life's messy road with.  God is not offering the fairy tale or giving over special protection or power to those who believe.  God is offering MUCH more then that - the Sustainer is offering a NEW LIFE. 

So let the cross, the triquetra or whatever Christian symbol you want bring to you reminder of new life - bring to you transformation in the sight of forgiveness and love where there is none.  Let the special power not come from the idolatry of a wish-giving God but from the power of grace!

Monday, February 6, 2012

a bit more about the supernatural

Anything "supernatural" has always been a fascination for us as humans.  I believe that currently the "supernatural" has far more followers then the "Church."  And in some way this disturbs me - but not the reasons you may think.  I find it interesting and some-what telling that the most popular TV shows currently surround this idea of the supernatural - it was like a cult following for the show Heroes.  I also found it ironic that on my Facebook feed I read about all these pastors who are equally involved in these shows and this following and YET we hardly discuss anything "supernatural" in church.

Is there not room for the supernatural in church?  Is it not appropriate? This is sort-of a follow up on last weeks Demon questions.  When did the church stop believing?  Perhaps when this is part of the reason the the Church has lost its way.

I am currently not saying that I believe vampires exist and I do hope you realize that too.  But what I am saying is that the supernatural in many ways the the quest for knowledge of the unknown.  A way in which we can understand evil and why some times bad things happen to GOOD people.  For far too long the church has prescribed to teaching and preaching a feel good message.  We have for far too long been making a fairy tale life seem possible if only you believe the right way.  We have made everyone believe that if you ask you shall receive and that literary God is like a genie of our wills.  And this has lead to the church and God "failing" a lot of people. This has lead to a lot of evil being misunderstood and a lot of hurt being turned into anger. 

Vampires and other supernatural beings came into our understanding as ways to understand that which was unknown or hard to grasps for people.  They help explain how bad things just happen.  They are the creatures of the night that control the universe through fear.  And since Church has not done enough to preach and teach about the bad, people have left. In fear, in hurt, lost and anger.

I am struck by the miracles that Jesus preforms time and time again in the Bible.  It seems like he heals so many and yet! he doesn't heal everyone.  Never does it say when the last person was healed Jesus moved on to the next village.  In fact, when his disciples tell him in Mark that there are still people that need healing Jesus reminds them that his purpose isn't to heal all and that they need to continue on to the next village and spread his message.  WOW.  The Good News According to Jesus Christ - isn't a fairy tale store or a prescription to how ours can be.  Instead it is a story about salvation, human sufferings and the power of grace. 

Life is tough - Jesus experienced that!  We don't always know what's best for ourselves - God often answers our prayers in unexpected ways!  Bad things happen - That's life (C'est la vie)!  But God searches out all those who are lost!

Being a Christian is not about entitlement for the worldly but is instead about acceptance of an amazing gift!  As a true Christian we don't need vampires and ware-wolfs to explain how bad things happen to good people because we know and trust that God is not pointing a figure and making theses things happen - instead we realize that God is walking along side us during our troubles and that it is through our faith that we know one day the Kingdom of God will be before us!