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.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

justice / Matthew 25 / Palm Sunday


A man is walking down a busy road, weary. His shoulders are slumped his head is down and everything about him is telling you he is feeling pretty low.  You saw a car a mile back and figure that was probably his; yet you do not stop you drive by.  Maybe we don’t stop because we are in a hurry – maybe we make excuses like we are alone and we don’t know what kind of man he really is – whatever our excuse is, we stick to it and continue on. 
I know, I have been there and done that.  God cannot expect me, a young woman, to stop and pick up a strange man just to fulfill this scripture – this is not what God was talking about at all.  As a pastor, as a mother, as a woman of God, I do my duty helping out those around me when I can and often I help even when I cannot.  But there has to be a point at which God has to accept that maybe in Jesus’ time this was acceptable but in today’s time I would just be asking for it and I would get taken advantage of if I helped everyone that came my way.  But when I do turn people down or drive by I do so in a loving way – don’t you? I pray that someone might help them or I smile as if to say ‘I understand’
But do I truly understand where God is and how God is using those I meet to speak to me? Am I really letting this scripture speak in today’s terms? Or am I just letting God’s message be tangled with the thoughts of society?
In Matthew 25, Jesus speaks of the final judgment of God and the all too famous line “‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” But back in the time of the Gospel, hospitality was common; people didn’t lock their doors nor did people need to clean to invite guests in. The invitation for a dinner guest was always open.   Unfortunately, times have changed.  We live in a world where caution is second nature and invitations are given selectivity…where homeless men with signs for food are cause for suspect instead of compassion…battered women are often blamed for staying instead of given empathy…young men in hoodies are gunned down instead of offered a chance of life…at the worst is always expected.  Poverty has become a sign of God’s disfavor and natural disasters have been used to show how evil some cities are. And as Christians we have forgotten who judges and we need to be reminded that Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are the members of my family, you did it to me.  Or perhaps just what you thought of one of the least of these, you thought of God.

But what then does God want us to do? Let’s go back to the man we left walking on the road – let us say we picked him up and drove him to a phone or to a friends.  What does that do to truly help his situation – he still has to get his car fixed and probably he didn’t have the money necessary to do that in the first place and now his situation has gotten exponentially worse – far beyond maybe we can fathom in this little scenario – so I ask again, were we any help bringing him to his friends or to a phone – or did we just make ourselves feel better? By bringing him some where and getting him off the road – we did our part to fulfill God’s will – didn’t we?
I argue that no, we didn’t do enough and maybe the man on the road walking was not God wanting for us to drive a man some where but was God reminding us that we need to take action against our society.  Against a society that has sent jobs over seas and left men and women to work for less then living wage.  Against a society that has created a system of government that fails the people who need the government’s protection the most.  Maybe that man is a reminder for us that injustice still exits and it is our jobs as Christians – As the Body of Christ in to push for change!  To not just bear witness to the man walking but to take action on behalf of the man walking! “‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”
Is it enough to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, find shelter for the homeless and take care of the sick?  Or are we just taking care of symptoms when we look at each case individually?  Shouldn’t we be reminded that the injustice and the pain runs much deeper, that it isn’t just one man walking but millions of men and women who have been left to walk on the banks of society juggling to stay within?  Are we really doing our duty as Christians when we put a band-aid on the problem – when a band-aid just isn’t big enough!  If we just help the man to the phone and yet do nothing to change the world he and we live in – then we have failed.  If we could only stop the injustices others might not have to suffer. 

But this is where people again start inserting excuses – I can’t make a difference because “I am just one person”  Yet as Christians we are not just one person we are a part of the Body of Christ.  Being a Christian demands that we take the road less traveled and often to feel alone – but we are never alone for our God walks with us.  As Christians we must assume our responsibility to open our own eyes to the needs of those around us. And call ourselves and our churches on their injustices! How much of an endowment fund does our church really need when the church down the street cannot afford its RG&E bill?  When we hear about a church that does so much for the community that when the roof caved in, it did not have enough to fix it – should not all the churches in the area pull together to help a fellow Christian? Or are our differences really that great?    
Yes, today times are different and hospitality has changed – for society has changed!  We are no longer responsible for the person or persons who live in our towns or our villages or those just passing through.  Through media – television and radio – we are no longer just witnesses to the one man walking down the road; but the witnesses to the injustices of the world. Although we might not be there in person that does not mean that our witness is any less – for we cannot ignore our second hand witnesses.  We are now given responsibility for a society - for a world and for all those who have no voice yet some how their story touches our souls.  And as women and men in God we must honor this great responsibility. ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me


Am I preaching here that we shouldn’t even bother to help those we see?  Am I preaching that we only need to fight the big fight? By all means no! But I am saying is that we cannot let the big fight go unseen – that we cannot wait to get into the ring because we only have one glove on! That as we put the band-aid on the individual wounds we must remember that the societal wounds need stitches.  That in order to fulfill God’s will we must not forget that for each person we help many more came before and many more will come after. 
We hear and see so much every day that could reflect on this passage in Matthew – so much that it can be seen as overwhelming and maybe that is why many Christians do nothing.  For it seems far easier to focus on the band-aids then to fight for societal changes. It seems far easier to give the man a car ride then to fight against what put that man in the situation.  It seems far easier to collect food for the local food pantry then to lobby outside the Capital when cut-backs to public welfare are being made.  It is far easier to curse the system then to take action to change the system.  And it seems far easier to sit in our comfy homes with heat then to take a night to live on the street in solidarity with the homeless.  It also seems far easier to judge those less fortunate then to ask them why they have so little.  Anything is easier then to hear the story and become a witness – a bearer of the burdens.  Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me
When you see a man on the side of the road, don’t just drive by but pledge to take on the injustice in the world and do right by not only that man but the men and women that that man represents.  God does not want us to take the easy way out; God wants us to forge through the thicket and emerge triumphant.  We do not know when the day of the Lord will come or when final judgment may be given but I do know that like most of you, I am living my life full of God’s grace and inspiring to be one of the flock.

But have we been true to God’s message here?  Have we used Matthew’s words here to inspire or have we ourselves uses this criteria to judge – judge the man walking along side the road – judge ourselves.  Have we used these words “‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” To prove that we ourselves must be one of the sheep and not a goat.  This passage speaks clearly that it is Jesus who judges us and that it is Jesus who will separate the sheep from the goats – and surprisingly the goats are shocked.  The goats do not seem to think they are to blame or that they have done anything wrong. The goats are friends and perhaps church mates to the sheep.  The goats are in all intensive purposes Christians. 
Jesus doesn’t ask us to judge.  God doesn’t ask us to decide who is righteous for ALL are worthy.  Living into righteousness is living without injustice and doing something, anything, to stop the injustices not perpetuate them.

It is in the next week or so, we will see a man walking with his head down and shoulders heavy for he is carrying the burden of a cross.  He is walking to Golgotha, you witnessed the accusations against him and as he passes you by what do you do? Do you lose eye contact? Or do you take him into your heart?  Do you profess your faith? And help carry that cross, spreading the Good News to all those around you?  And fighting for change so that no one else needs bear the same cross he did?  Or do you do nothing?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why turn to God

So I had what I would call a "Light blub moment" recently.  One of the most difficult question I get as a spiritual leader is "why doesn't God answer my prayers" or "how do I know God is listening?"  Both tough questions usually are coming from someone really down sometimes even lost but always going through something difficult.  The difference here is that these are people who usually didn't grow up in church - or grow up believing.  These questions come from people turning to God in their time of struggle because they NEED God and because others get comfort by it. But when they turn to God, often nothing changes.

As the Christian faith struggles to continue to be important in people's lives and as we as religious leaders try to teach, preach and spread the message what are we offering to a world where the "easy" button has given this society a quick fix to everything.  And an expectation of what should be handed to each of us - the dream life - money and living easy.
So the question becomes why turn to God??  The common quoted "ask and you shall receive" has left us all feeling that when you ask for something in prayer, and nothing changes then God must not be listening or answering our prayers. Asking God for a job, money, to win the lottery, to meet a handsome wealthy and decent man are all prayers lifted up to God pretty regularity.  Should God then grant us all our wishes like a genie? 

Faith is a two way street - faith is not just the hope that God exists and grants believers all their prayers.  Faith is not only about praying to God.  Faith is about a relationship.  A relationship with the divine.  You wouldn't remain in a relationship with someone who only talks about themselves and never asks you about yourself or your desire would you?  Then you can't expect to have a FULL relationship with divine by just demanding material items through prayer.  You aren't going to get out of your situation by just getting a job or meeting the man (or women) of your dreams.

A relationship with God is expressed in your own spiritual expresses.  The Bible is an essence a human response to human experience and relationship with God.  Each religion is a way to grow, express, develop and come to understand your own unique relationship with the divine.  Turning to God in our times of need is only natural.  Turning to God when we are down, depressed, lonely, scared, or even joyful is a good thing - and a GREAT WAY to start your relationship.  To build a deep and meaningful understanding of the divine.

So back to my original question why turn to God?  Why develop a relationship with the divine if your life may never change?  Because your life will change!  Yes, you may still be in the same place - jobless, struggling, depressed, missing the deceased, ect...  But your life will change - it will be easier to carry those burdens knowing you aren't alone.  Your relationship with God may open doors that you never saw before.  Your more peaceful spirit may attract more opportunities.

When my life has felt chaotic or even out of control, turning to God has been a great relief.  My relationship with the divine has pulled me through and kept me positive.  Life still happened: loved ones still died, money stresses still existed, jobs were still needed and accidents happened.  Yet, because of my relationship with the Divine, these were easier to cope with - NOT just because I believe in God but because I have faith (a relationship)! 

Keep the faith! Is more then just keep believing - it is keep your relationship with the HOLY going!  Offer to God not just your prayers but your ears and your praise.  Don't just show up to church, develop your spirit!  Don't just pray because you need a genie, pray because you want a new type of relationship one in which you are LOVED, you are WORTHY and you can be SAVED.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vacation

Sorry I was on vacation :) now that I am rested, I had several thoughts to post :)

First my thought on Sabbath.  I named the site Cyber Sabbath because throughout the internet there are tons of cyber web pages that cram our brains, that use fear to freak us out, the overload us with information and that just plain focus on the evil of the world.  But not this space. This space is for renewal, refreshing our souls.  This place is a place for you to come and hear that yes there are Christians out there that think differently, that question and that believe God truly sent the Son of Man to save the world and not condemn the world.  That the Holy Spirit can work within and through people of all shapes, sizes, colors and religions.  That God is bigger and greater then our understanding - then our perception - then our imagination.  That religion is an expression of our HUMAN interaction with God, our HUMAN understanding of God and NOT the total truth about God for God is greater! 

Sabbath is really important for our souls.  As a pastor, I don't "do" sabbath as well as I preach on it!  Sunday's are not a day of rest and although I try to make Monday's my day of rest, I am usually filling that day up with things I don't do on other days (many times writing my blog).  So what is it truly mean to "Sabbath" is it really as extreme as some Jewish people celebrate? Where you can do no work, use no cars or technology?  Does weeding the garden really seem like Sabbath.  Well I think it is all in the mindset of Sabbath.  For Sabbath is a time for pause, a time for renewal and refreshment.  When God finished creation, he took a day to rest; a day to sit back and do things that are good for your soul - not because you have to do them but because they give you joy.

In our busy lives, I think it would be best if we found what gave us joy and refreshed our spirits and did it once a day.  Reconnecting with God as our souls fill.  For some that maybe working in the garden and feeling God's creation in their hands.  For others it is creating something new, as God created the world, through art, woodworking, ect...  For others it is sitting with a good book, a cup of tea and a blanket and allowing their mind to get lost.  Whatever it is, the key is that our minds get lost into it, setting our cares free.  For it is when we have set our cares free, have offered them up to God, that our souls can truly be renewed.

So I challenge each of us to find what brings us Sabbath in our lives and practice it! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

off topic

Sorry once again, I am late this week in getting a blog up.  But today I am going to go "off topic" meaning I am not going to be blogging about Christianity necessarily.  I am instead going to be just making a few notes about society: 

1. I am very shocked at the current state of privacy.  I cannot believe that to get a job, one is asked to give over the password for your Facebook account and / or asked to open your facebook in front of a future employer.  I can understand them checking out your Facebook - but I hope that you have set your privacy settings like any responsible person.  But if you haven't that is your own fault.  BUT TO ASK for this information is a complete violation of our privacy and our right to freedom of speech.  WHAT is more shocking to me in this however is that PEOPLE THINK this is OK. That in a poll a large percentage of people believe this is not a problem and if you have nothing to hide then this should be OK.  I have nothing to hide - heck I blog my personal religious beliefs.  Yet, I would not give over my password NOR would I log in while a future employer watched NOR would I befriend an employer just so they could see my page.  There is a line and I hope that in this very open age we work together to actually keep what privacy we do have.

2.  The ignorance of some of the younger generation that what they do/say now on the internet or OUT in the public of the internet isn't going to be a problem at all in the future!  In a world where our privacy is dwindling and how open the internet is, it is really bad that people think this stuff isn't going to stay around.  And even more dumb if you don't think people don't "google" each other.  Soon there might be an "internet" score like a credit score.  Already two professors are working on a Facebook Score in which they analyze your Facebook timeline/ posts / page and turn it into a score of your personality.

3. When did we stop thinking for ourselves??  I am shocked at the number of people ACROSS the board of generations that seriously believe things that the media says.  I am shocked at how people really no longer even look things up.  Things get spread on Facebook that are complete lies because no one bothers to check them out.  The media over hypes just about everything and YET people fall for it.  I am overwhelmed but how we feel that there is only one correct answer to everything when that is never true.  There were always a few things I was told as a kid: never believe everything you hear and there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Both still hold true and YET people do believe everything they hear and often don't see the cost of free lunches. 
Media is really bad at this.  I understand why older people believe Media, they are familiar with the time when media was much more trustworthy and journalist actually did research so it is understandable that they put more stock in what comes out of the mouths of the now "mouthpiece" journalist but for the rest of us, we have grown up in a time when all media has done is over hyped and completely mis-represented most everything - so why do we believe it?

4. when did it become a companies problem when you mis-used their product BUT since their safety disclaimer didn't tell you not too you can sue?  I am struck by the fact that no one wants to take responsibility for their actions.

5. I am angry with companies that leave the US for cheaper workers and YET still feel entitled to our governments protection when their product is duplicated and then distributed in that country.  If you aren't going to help the US economy by keeping those jobs here, then why in the world should we fight for your patent infringements? 

OK...I hope you still want to read my blogs :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

why I follow Christ

So one thought has popped up in my life several times - why am I Christian? Am I actually Christian? Why follow Christ?  So really these are three questions but they always arise at the same time and make me truly think and digest what it is I believe and preach. 
I think this is a really important part of anyone's faith journey and I do hope that everyone goes through these periods of true self exploration.

So the answer is usually a tough drawn out week of conversations with God.  Mainly conversations over what the current view of Christianity is and how I feel that I don't "fit in" to that view.  That I really don't like the current definition of Christianity and wonder if I truly identify as such.  I am sure many of you have this similar problem.  I question wanting to call myself a Christian or tell others of my beliefs for the struggle of their judgements makes me angry and embarrassed. But each time I come to the same conclusion - yes I am indeed a Christian - Yes I am proud to be a follower of Christ but as for the "why" to my belief the simple and true answer is - because that is what I grew up believing. 

I am a spiritual person - always have been.  I often held my beliefs in and kept them secret because I never believe in all the "mainstream" stuff and felt that people would declare it odd.  I had several interesting conversations growing up with friends over mine and their beliefs.  And although some of it was just me challenging the system, much of those beliefs carry with me today.  The big one is the huge responsibility I believe we have (by we I mean people of faith) to represent God on earth.  The second is the commandment to love. Both very simple and yet difficult for us to follow.  For to love someone unconditionally usually means to love without judgment and love flaws and all - and yet that seems to be the opposite of what Church is doing?

I am Christian because I believe in Christ and his teachings.  I believe in Christ because I grew up in America, in a Scottish-American home.  Because I grew up 3 generation American and my 10th grandfather back was a minister in the Church of Scotland.  Because the Christian faith is so embedded in me that I breath words of Calvin even when I am trying to be Baptist.  Yet, I know deep down that if i was born in India I could have been Hindu, if I was born to a Jewish family I could have been Jewish, and the list goes on...

Am I a better person because I follow Christ - I sure hope so.  For although Christianity is a part of me, I hope that I am not so lost in my own life that I remember to think of God's will.  But does follow Christ make me better then anyone else?  That isn't for me to decided.  That isn't my will.  And it is probably best that I don't know the answer to that.  For in not knowing the answer, I have to treat everyone with the understanding and respect that they too are worthy of God.  And isn't that what Jesus taught us???  That everyone is WORTHY?  That through Jesus death on the cross, there was no longer Jew or gentile, no longer slave, no longer male or female but instead, ALL were equal and worthy in God's eyes?

Maybe I am taking things too far here - but I would rather meet my maker and apologize for taking Jesus a bit too literally and loving far too many then to have to explain how I didn't love enough!

I follow Christ, because I believe in his message of love - of forgiveness - of mercy - of grace - of worthiness.  I follow Christ because beyond my up-bringing I feel an internal connection with Christianity.  I follow Christ because I believe the Good News.  I am a Christian because that is where my Spirit is most comfortable, but that doesn't mean that everyone will find comfort there.

With that said - I do think that Spirituality with religion is missing something.  That without community, it is difficult to truly follow God.  For it is within community that we experience, share and grow in our faith and our Spirits.  So I challenge all those Spiritual but not religious to find community, somewhere.  Community to let your Spirits free, to grow, live, learn, give and pray.