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, April 24, 2012

Thoughts on changing the church

Social Justice is very close to my heart; from a very young age I have felt that it is my duty to call out and fight for the injustices I see.  Early on, hearing the Bible stories told I came to the understanding that God was just, calling people out on the “bad.”  I heard this in the psalms, the story of the wise king Solomon and in Jesus’ own words. I remember coming to the conclusion that not only were God’s commands complicated, they were wrought with justice issues.
I started my first petition / protest at the age of 5 over the cafeteria lunches; this led to me packing my own lunches for the rest of my school career.  Although I didn’t get very far with this, the drive and spirit for change was released and there was no turning back.  In 6th grade, I fought for a new aid for an Austin child in several of my classes after observing that her aid was very impatient with her at times.  In high school I worked at a soup kitchen and in college joined Alpha Phi Omega.
Today, I continue to strive to live a life of integrity, addressing injustice where I see it and working for change.  For that reason, I don’t shop at Walmart, I research companies before I make larger purchases and I am always questioning the motives of people especially when money and power are involved.
Although being called to ministry wasn’t completely shocking for me – being called to institutional church was. For me, and most my generation, institutional church is just one more corrupt power house where injustice rules freely in guise.  And yet God is a God of justice. I have felt from the beginning of my call that part of my ministry moving forward would be to shed light on the change needed and to work from within to make those changes.
If this is God’s house – God’s church – then why is there so much wrong with it?  Has church itself become the anti-Christ?
While searching my family history I discovered that my 11th and 10th grandfathers back were ministers in the Church of Scotland and the Reformed church tradition in America.  My 10th grandfather back was exiled from Scotland and found refuge in the US for preaching non-conformist views.  So I guess more runs in my family than expected. And it also reminds us that the problems of the Church are not new to us in this day and age but indeed have been a long stemming problem of the Church Universal.  These are not new problems – corruption is not new in the Church (what do you think the reformation was about?)
So no, Church is not the anti-Christ, no matter how personally it has hurt you or someone you love or how irresponsible they have been.   And YES we do have to change our mind-set as to how we perceive Church and our religious community in our lives.  
Our God is a God of justice and wisdom; and our Bible is wrought with social justice undertones (as well as blanket statements!).  So how do we begin to reshape our churches around Matthew 25 instead of around the buildings that we love?  How do we begin to shape our ministries with the community in mind as appose to our own survival?
How do we incorporate into our worship and daily living the Spiritual practices of many of our forefathers and mothers in faith?   How do we open ourselves to God’s will instead of trying to control the circumstances for ourselves?  But the biggest question of ALL is how do we CHANGE the current state of our religious organizations – taking them out of the perception of the anti-Christ – without closing down and starting from starch? 

When you have the answer, please share!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jesus is the WAY

So I have been troubled for some time by this statement.  My husband and fellow theological thinker has always taken the side that Jesus meant that he was one way but not the only way.  But I just can't shake this and when I get into deep theologically conversations with people much more conservative then myself I always end up flopping over words and truly feeling like I don’t have a good reason, except belief and instinct to believe that Jesus truly meant he was only one of the many ways.
Until recently that is.  I was reading in John 8 about Jesus’ testimony of himself to the high priests in the temple.  There Jesus makes a claim that he is indeed the light and they go on to accuse him of lying or making false testimony.  Jesus says that he isn’t testifying falsely at all and eventually goes on to tell them that they would know his “Abba” if they only got to know him.  Another way of Jesus saying that he is the way. 
But this got me thinking…what is Jesus really trying to say here?  And what if it is MUCH more profound than just confessing Christ to be your Lord and Savior to get into the Kingdom – what if instead he is saying that WE might EXPERIENCE GOD in HUMANITY in order to truly know the divine. 
What I mean is that, in order to fully and truly know that there is a God – something greater then all of us we must first experience the Holy.  It is easy for the mind to tell us there is no such thing as a God.  It is easy for our brains to tell us science can indeed explain it all.  It is pretty easy for an atheist to make the claims that the Divine doesn’t exist.  But once we have experienced this amazing presence – we believe.  Be it as a child worried about monsters under our bed and praying to a God to protect us or as an adult sitting at the death bed of a loved one – those who are faithful have experienced this Holy Divinity in our lives.  Maybe it was through the birth of a child, the battle with an illness, the completion of a marathon or a mission trip to help others – whatever it was those who believed have experienced.
Most of our experiences haven’t been actual encounters with the Holy or Christ.  They haven’t been walks side by side with God as Abram was able in the Old Testament or conversations with Jesus like the disciples must have had; instead our encounters have looked much different.  But one thing remains the same – we experience God in humanity.  We are touched by God when we help others and hear the words “whatever you do to the least of these, you have done to me.”  We are reminded of God’s love when a stranger provides comfort in an unexpected place.  We experience God all around us.
Many of us choose to follow Christ and experience God’s humanity through Jesus’ teaching; but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to experience God in humanity and come to truly believe.  What it does mean is that to truly come to know “abba” we must experience!
The divine is not found in our heads – or the rational self.  The divine is not something we choose to believe in “just in case” there really is a Kingdom of God.  The Holy is not something we should pray to because we want to be seen as moral or any other mind reason.  We know that Abba exists because we have experienced Abba in our life.
Experience of the HOLY in Humanity is the WAY.

Friday, April 20, 2012

We live in a World of Color!

This week I have been struck with how many people think that religion is a black and white concept.  I have been accused of creating trouble by asking more questions when reading the Bible.  Shouldn't the Bible be read for what it says?  Shouldn't religion be giving us a concrete way to live our life?

The answer is NO! And yet, sadly the churches that are growing the most of churches which do preach about Black and White nature of the Bible and our religion.  WHY?  Because we feel safer and more comfortable in the Black and White.  We have been taught from a very young age that there is only one answer to a question, or one answer that is more right then the rest.  I tell my daughter all the time "no! don't do that!" in order to keep her safe but some times I worry that I am teaching her there is only one path that is OK - mine.  In school we are given multiple choice test in which often there is a trick but only one right answer.  In art class even we are taught to color IN the lines and make things look uniform and pretty.  And so, in our attempt to keep control and know that we must be doing OK we keep ourselves living in Black and White.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Pleasantville and my favorite scene? When everyone begins to be in color of course!  We live in a world where there is of course more then one answer to a problem and often more then one choice in front of us.  Yes, we are defined by the choices we make, but that is what makes life colorful.

The Bible is not a concrete set of ideas that is to be read once and perfectly understood.  The Bible is not to be read out of context - either out of the passage or time and place.  (You may want to read an early blog about the Living Word).  And religion is not meant to have all the answers for you either - or to have a prescribed set of rules in which to live your life.  Nope.  Religion is suppose to help you find out the truths for yourself, find the truths that answer your questions.  Religion should bring up more questions then it can answer in an attempt to always be revolving. 

God is an infinite vast being who is beyond full knowledge of humans for humanity is only made in the image of God - we weren't given the knowledge of God.  and we can't even know for sure what was truly meant by "image."  So lets challenge ourselves - as Christians or as seekers to stop and rethink the need for concrete answers and begin to live more colorful.  You just might find yourself living a fuller and more God-like life then you expected :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why do we hold the church to a higher standard?

Why do we hold the church to a higher standard then we do ourselves?  The church is made of humans, so how can we expect more or better?  Just because the Church foundation is divine doesn't mean the church system should be consider divine or a divine creation.  At best, we can hope that with in the human creation, establishment, we are able to follow God's will.

And this is the big assumption that has caused the most harm to the reputation of the Church universal - the idea that because it is a Church it should some how be "better" and yet we recognize that humans make up this body.  Furthermore, Christians should realize that just because they strive to be followers of Christ doesn't make them less sinful or less human. 

Yes Church is full of hypocrites but where else can a group of hypocrites go to learn a new way of life and hopefully one day change?  Where else can humanity go and hear of the story of Christ who is offering humanity so much more?  Church wouldn't be do its job or working in the world as Christ commands if its doors weren't open to all who need - hypocrites and all.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

My take on Times newest article

So we get the Time magazine weekly not because we agree with everything it says but because after I read it, I feel smarter.  Yup.  We don't have TV so besides the news I gather from my morning internet surfing and John Stewart, I relay on the Times to fill in the blanks.  And fill it in they do, especially with their "fact" pages and the page that shows who died.  But the real reason why I feel smarter after I read it, is because they always give one if not two things to think about, to question, to investigate and get more answers to - they always have at least one "fact" that challenges me to know more about a subject.  I have come to learn that not everyone reads news articles as I and so many people read what is said and believe it or accept the author as an authority on the subject.  But that is not always the case.
This week the times has a catchy "Rethinking Heaven" title and the seven page article surely makes it look like there must be some authority to the author.  And although it is well written and I want to point out something that Jon says early on in his article "A word of disclosure: I'm a Christian - a poor one, to be sure -- who keeps the feast and says his prayers." But an article of this degree should have been written by someone a bit more qualified to not only understands the theology being presented but also extent to which this is not truly a new thing.
First, since the time of Jesus assentation and the 12 disciples embarked on spreading the message of Jesus Christ there have been as many views on the subject of heaven as there have been Christians in the world (Ok so that is an obvious not true, but the point is valid).  The current Christian thought (if you want to believe that it is cohesive) was the dominate thought of the time.  The losers were those who believed Jesus was human until his death and then made divine; perhaps it could have been anyone but Jesus was the first human to truly live out a righteous life.  Those who believed that Jesus’ childhood was full of miracles, perhaps even bringing back a bird from death when he was just a young boy. 
The predominate thought of Jesus’ second coming being “any day” was soon abandoned to the acceptance that we will not know the date / time of the second coming so we must be prepared. Soon we had the readings of revelation – written as a prophecy and like all prophetic writings, considered something that could happen but may never happen if we change – take over the view of the end times.  But how does the end times view and the view of heaven come together? 
Well according to the Times article there are two camps: the camp of traditional Christians who believe in the pearly white gates, who believe in a Christ who because of his death made us all worthy (or entitled) to heaven and it is not works that get us there.  This article, portrays this camp a camp that doesn’t worry about getting to heaven, doesn’t take seriously the passage in Matthew in which God says “whatever you do to the least of these you have done to me.” Essentially claiming that this group in looking into themselves and not out for the good of humanity and maybe his claims are right; but theology of the pearly white gates aren’t the reason they aren’t looking outward.
The second camp is a new camp headed by the Bishop Wright who believe in creating the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.  This camp believes in living out the Matthew passage and is encouraged to “do” and “act.” This camp of believers is trying to merge Heaven and Earth and thus in doing so are looking out for the world…they are greener and more society oriented.  Here is gets mucky with theology – do they believe in a heaven in the hereafter or not?  Is this the same camp of the folks who believe that Jesus’ second coming was his resurrection and thus merging already the kingdom of Heaven with the Earth? 
The reality: there have been many sets of beliefs on the idea of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Bible gives validity to most of them.   
First belief: the pearly white gate – this one is a little harder to find in the Bible.  But the belief stems from the fact that Jesus’ resurrection gave way to the resurrection of all upon death.  Jesus was the first.  The Hebrews long believed that death would lead to a long peaceful slumber until the coming of the kingdom of God.  This got merged into the belief that Jesus was the first to be resurrected and united with God and all those after would be too.  So from their our imaginations have taken hold and our hearts have painted a picture that not only comforts us in our dying moments but provides comfort for our loved ones in believing that one day we will be reunited.   For one to enter the Kingdom a few “key” things must happen – believing in Jesus Christ is a pretty big one for most Christians (but several now accept the understanding that there are more than one path).  This pearly white gate belief does usually accept the idea that Jesus Christ who died for our sins and not only set the way for our resurrection but also made us all worthy.  But we don’t just sit back in our entitlement to the Kingdom, for through grace and the Holy Spirit we are pulled to live out a better life, a life for Christ.  A life that FULLY lives into scripture, especially scripture that suggests that we make our world a better place!  There are plenty of green Christians out there who believe in the pearly white gates.  Especially since many churches in our Christian faith are what is called confessional churches.  One aspect of being a confessional church is the understanding that not only do we need to be worried about ourselves but we also have to be worried about humanity.  We don’t just confess our own sins but the sins of the world.  We don’t just worry about what we are doing, but also how we are affecting the world and interacting with society. 
Second Belief: Revelation.  There is pretty strong evidence that when we die we don’t get lifted up to meet our maker and get our judgment but instead are lead into a deep and peaceful sleep until the day of rapture.  When rapture occurs, not only are the living going to be zapped up to heaven but also those who have been awaiting in their graves.  In this scenario, those who are believers should be striving to prevent revelation by creating an earth that is the Kingdom of God.  For like I said, revelation is preventable, it is only one scenario of how things could be.  Maybe if we work hard enough, trying to create a humanity that resembles and embodies Christ message, we can indeed merge the Kingdoms of Heaven and Earth and create a real paradise.  Those in this camp aren’t just looking out for themselves and their own sinful actions, they are focused on humanity and the whole of world.  We thus, believe in a greater sense of mission work.  We believe in living out fully the word of Christ in order to bring not only Christ’s message to the world but to make a world a better place.  Although we look a bit more “outward” in the sense of the commitment to the secular world, we don’t “do” more because of theology than any other camp. 
Third belief: Jesus’ has already come again!  There has always been throughout history of the church a pretty good amount of people believing and preaching that Christ’ second coming has already happened.  That Christ’s resurrection and walking on Earth with his disciples was his second coming.  Thus, we believe then that Christ present is much more evident on Earth then the others.  Truly believing that the Kingdom of Heaven is available on Earth.  We don’t just help the poor because God says so but because we believe that Jesus is there with the poor, his presence real.  Like the second group, this also allows us to be very mission centered and look out at society. 
But which ever belief of heaven you choose (and there are others) the reality is that if you are reading the scripture then you are trying to live out your Christian faith – DOING and ACTING in the world.  Any way you want to see it there will be a day of judgment, when you aren’t going to be the judge but be judge!  My biggest dislike of this article is that although this second belief is the bang wagon it doesn’t mean that all those in the first belief are horrible people – are some YUP.  We will never know what awaits us when we die, but as Christians we should be looking toward scripture and living out our life according to God.      

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter morning reflection

Hello, Christ has Risen! This post today is written more for those who call themselves Christians then those seeking, more for those who are struggling perhaps with their faith or their church.

Mark 16 1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Mag'dalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salo'me, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?" 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; --it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you." 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.
Christ is Risen!  Today we celebrate the most important holiday in our church calendar year.  Although the secular world makes it seem like Christmas and Jesus’ birth is the most important the truth is that without the resurrection – without Easter morning – there wouldn’t be a Christian faith.  In fact it was in the fulfillment of the resurrection that our faith was born not in the birth of a baby but in his death and resurrection. 
So why do we spend so much more time, energy and money celebrating his birth?  It is simple, Jesus’ birth is much more believable then Jesus’ resurrection. It is easy to celebrate Christmas in a time when secularism has made Christmas just another holiday but Easter?  Easter bunnies are OK but once you start getting into the resurrection, you lose people. I believe that it was the intellectual revolution that birth the idea that “faith is private” and it was embraced by all because at the end of the day, resurrection is not only difficult to explain it is difficult to believe. 
So Easter has become a day when we dress up and head to church before having a family dinner.  Easter has become a time for Easter eggs and bunnies.  Easter has become second class to Christmas and it yet another time of year for people to show up at church to prove their faith. 
But what faith are we proving on Easter?  In today’s passage we hear how some of the women went out early in the morning to anoint Jesus’ body but instead of finding Jesus, they were met with an angel who declared Jesus’ resurrection.  But instead of turning around and sharing this wondrous news they in fear kept it to themselves.  And isn’t this like ourselves today?  Because we can’t explain this mystery or miracle and in fear of the judgment from our friends, family, co-workers, the world, we choose not to.  We hide our faith in fear and don’t share the Good News. 
That is the reality of our faith…not the risen Christ…but the fear of judgment shapes our faith.  And not the judgment that will come with the Kingdom of God but the judgment that comes from those in the here and now.  And that is where our faith has found its flaw.  We spend far too much time wondering how people in the here and are going to perceive our actions instead of asking ourselves What Would Jesus Do.  But this fear of judgment also leads us to becoming some of the worse judges doesn’t it?  Qualifying everyone and forgetting how to love. 
But there is good news!  Christ is risen!  Today, we once again celebrate this amazing mystery that defined our beliefs.  Once again we celebrate this amazing miracle that invites us to experience God in a new way and open ourselves to a relationship with the Holy unlike what was offered before.  For through the resurrection of Christ not only was the divinity of Christ revealed but the Holy Spirit was gifted to us.  And today, because of Christ’s resurrection you too are offered this unique relationship with the Divine.  You, me, all of us are made worthy through Christ’ death on the cross to experience God through the Holy Spirit in amazing ways. 
Through a relationship with God, we are made worthy.  The judgment of others, the need for approval by those who are just as fake as you are doesn’t matter.  Because when you are truly in a relationship with God you will experience not only the amazing relief that comes with forgiveness but the unconditional love that Christ wants us to spread.  You see, unconditional love, the love that comes from God, the love that Christians are asked to spread, is the love that doesn’t judge. 
But it isn’t easy to live out our faith; it took the disciples several encounters with risen Christ before they believed; and today we aren’t so lucky, or are we?  I think it is a myth for us to say that today we don’t encounter the risen Christ.  For in living out our Christian faith, we meet Christ and see Christ everywhere.  Christ is in the eyes of the grateful poor, Christ is in the hands of the doctors and nurses that perform miracles every day, Christ is in the hearts of those who love unconditionally and Christ is in all those who believe and strive to live better because of this relationship.  Christ is risen and doing work all over the world for along with Christ resurrection came the gift of the Spirit and the light of Christ that shines through each and every one of us.  As long as we believe.  As long as we let our beliefs lead our life and not the judgment of others.  Christianity isn’t about judgment (unless God is doing the judging) but is instead about the freedom that comes with a true relationship. The freedom from sin, the freedom from the bondages of the secular world and the freedom to love unconditionally.  Our Christian faith isn’t about a baby who was born but about the man who was resurrected, about the love that God has for humanity and the new way in which we enter into relationship with the Divine.  One not held back through fear, not held back because of societal clashes but one that transcends this life.  One that opens us up to the Kingdom of God and the experience of the risen Christ.  
So this Easter, I challenge you, to not make this an Easter that goes by without a conversation of what the risen Lord has done for you.  I challenge you to make this Easter not just about another family dinner or one more Church service but about the true relationship that the Holy is offering.  I challenge you to not just repeat “Christ has Risen INDEED” unless you are truly willing to share that with those you meet – teaching and sharing about the risen Christ you have encountered.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday Reflection

We are all familiar with the typical Madonna and child image in which we see Mary the mother of Jesus in all her glory carrying a young Jesus.  These majestic and happy imagines fill us with warmth and remind us just how human Jesus was.  But as we take a look at Michelangelo’s rendition of Madonna and Child, chills are sent through our body.  Instead of the vibrant Mary; we see a slumped, distressed and shocked women trying to hold up the limp body of her child.  The pain of losing a child is so great that the weight of her loss is bringing her own body down.  The Bible passage echoes in my mind that at the foot of the cross stands: “his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” 
            As I stand at the foot of Jesus’ cross on Good Friday, I stand in solidarity with the Marys.  I am not thinking about Easter Sunday and Jesus’ glorious resurrection; although I know it is to come.  I am not thinking about the fact that scriptures must be fulfilled.  Instead my heart is bleeding, my eyes are stinging and my body is aching.  I feel as if the weight of Jesus’ body is weighing me down and that his death is looming in my hands.  For if we, as humans, had not had so much sin we would not have needed redemption.
            We have all been in the shoes of one of the Maries.  We have been the loved one of a dying family member.  We have sat at the foot of the bed watching, waiting, praying and pleading with God as our loved one slowly left us - leaving us at the foot of the cross full of solace and with the weight of our own sorrow dragging our bodies to the ground.  The grief of the loss so great that our bodies explode in sorrow and we are left holding their limp bodies.  On this holy day we cannot help but be reminded of the holy moments of death.  These are the moments that define our faith and often bring us closer to God.  And this is the moment in which Jesus’ Ministry was defined. 
            For it is not Christmas but Jesus’ death and resurrection that defines us as Christians, it is not the warm and fuzzy picture of the Madonna and Child that gives meaning to our faith and religion but it is Jesus on the cross.  It is the happenings of a few short days that begins on Good Friday.  It is the journey of these three women; not only the pain they feel at the foot of the cross but the relief they receive in coming to know that Jesus is in fact not dead.  Today is for us the beginning of the journey.  We are feeling the sorrow today at the foot of the cross.  We are remembering our sins that placed Jesus there and continue to place people there today.  We are feeling the sorrow and weight of Jesus’ body as we try to hold up his life the best we can.  Yet, each time we place a loved one in the ground we are reminded of the life that is to come thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross. 
            As we sit today, observing Good Friday, let us not leave Christ on the cross but instead wrap Jesus in our arms as Mary does in this sculpture.  Let our love for Christ and our dedication to his life transform this image into something that we long to see.  Let us lift this image of our Christ into our memories so that we may truly know the journey that he took for us and we will one day take.  Let us remember his death, let us hold Jesus’ death in our arms feeling the weight of the burden he suffered on the cross.  Today, in solidarity with the Maries, let us grieve the death of our Teacher knowing that in only a few short days we will be celebrating the resurrection of our Redeemer.