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, August 30, 2012

The chapters in our lives

So lately I have been thinking a lot about the different chapters in our lives.  As our baby becomes a big girl, our first house gets sold and our summer has been filled with funerals I can't help but think about the seasons of our lives and the doors that close. 

I was recently preaching on the Road to Emmaus and was once again struck by the fact that here were two men on Easter morning spreading the message and story of Christ when you gather that the 12 disciples were themselves in the upper room.  Some part of me is always a bit upset with the 12 disciples who aren't out shouting and spreading the message but the reality is we have to be patient with them...they are not only grieving the lost of Jesus as a friend and mentor but they are processing and beginning a new chapter in our lives.  No matter how long we prepare ourselves for a death of a loved one, there is still something shocking about it when it comes and a process of grief that we must go through.

No matter how much we expect and anticipate the changes that happen in our lives and the events that mark those changes, we can never be completely prepared for them nor how they will effect us. 

If we are in tune with the Holy then we seek out the Divine presence during this time - some of us to find hope, some to find consistency and others to seek reassurance.  Whichever it is that we seek, the Spirit can help fulfill our need.  And we can find in the Holy Bible a lot of references to transitional time periods.  In fact, many of the experiences of the Divine within the Holy text are times of transition or when people are worried of the unknown future.   

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

stepping up to the plate of Change ...

I am struck by the number of churches and other institutions that are literally holding themselves back from the future.  I recently read in a churches information packet that although they feel they need to change for their own good, most of them are unwilling to because they feel most comfortable in what they do now.  I hear that / see that a lot with churches. 

The big thing for churches right now is the need for young people and young families...this is so badly needed in some churches that when a young family visits they are surrounded in piranha style in hopes that will stay and in fear that they will leave. 

But what about this change that is needed?  Is it structural?   Well of course it is a bit of that as our denominations do need to take a hard look at themselves but mostly it is just the need for people within the churches to step up to the plate.

As Christians, we should be living our lives everyday - not just on Sunday for Christ.  And by doing so, exploring and finding a new way to live with Christ.  As our lives change so to does a good relationship with the Divine and yet, we live as if our relationship needs to be unchanging and worse we look to leadership for change and when they begin to produce, we blame leadership for our own dis-like.

The real change that needs to come from the churches, needs to come from the individuals and us as Christians.  No longer can we look at our life with the Holy as a constant unchanging relationship - we need to realize that we are forever to be growing and being challenged.  We also need to realize that although we are free from our sins and by grace God has offered us new life - we are still suppose to act and live into that new life.  We as churches are failing if the majority of the people around us are unchurched or even distrustful of church.  We are failing as churches if we continue to enable the poverty around us instead of thinking outside the mission box to do something for that poverty.

No more can we just sit pretty and wait for someone else to come along and change things - heck we have been waiting close to 2000 years for Christ and that return hasn't happened yet!  Are we going to just waste away, letting our churches die as we sit in standing water?  I sure hope not!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

trying to forgive

What does it mean, the word forgiveness?  Do I mean in common terms or Christian terms? 

To unpack forgiveness, I first think we need to realize what it doesn't mean - that one needs to forget.  I also don't think that forgiveness means "go back to the way things were" or even that things go "back."  Some times forgiveness can be granted without it needing to be accepted and the other way around accepted without ever being granted. 

Forgiveness in common terms is difficult.  It is difficult because of pride and hurt feelings but most of all it is difficult because it isn't natural.  What do I mean by that?  Well, it doesn't seem right to let people back into our lives who have hurt us - protecting ourselves from future hurt.  It doesn't seem right to let forgive people who have done us harm (physically, emotionally, mentally...) because what is to stop them from doing it again.  Trust isn't something that comes easily to us humans and it requires a ton of trust to forgive - and especially since we are usually forgiving someone who broke that trust!

And yet, in Christian terms that is what God did for us.  We broke our side of the trust - of the contract with God.  Dating all the way back to the beginning, we continued to fall short of not only God's expectations but the trust that God granted to us.  Our tasks on Earth aren't really that grand and God's expectations for us really aren't unreal and yet time and time again we break that covenant - that contract - with God.  It isn't the other way around, God doesn't break the contract...well at least not since Noah and the flood...God keeps the Holy promises.  But how many times do we fall short of our promises to God?  How many times do we pray "this will be the last thing I ever ask for, if only..."  Or "God please help me with ... and I'll never ask for anything else."  Or "I'll stop acting or doing..."  We are always falling short of these the big requests but even in our daily lives when we claim we will pray more and then never do.  Or we go to church only for the social aspect of catching up on gossip instead of getting into the real worshiping of our Lord.  The bottom line is that we fail God often and yet, often blame God for failing us.  (but that is another blog).

Today we are looking at forgiveness and the fact that despite all of that and all the sins we continue to do on a daily basic (remembering that I define sin as that which keeps us from having a true relationship with God), God still offers us forgiveness.  What does that mean?  That God wipes the board clean and forgives us? No!  But that God, knowing our human ways and our humanity (fully understanding through Jesus Christ) grants us grace and forgives us...allows us to move on and continue to have an open relationship with the Holy.

Forgiveness doesn't mean that our relationship with the Redeemer goes back to what it was before our separation but it also doesn't stop it from being even greater.  It allows our relationship with our Creator to be anew, to be different and gives us an opportunity to walk a new path with the Divine.  

And in our lives that is how forgiveness should work.  It should allow us, not to forget the hurt that people have caused or the pain that we felt - for those are often scars that may never heal.  But instead allow us to say we are not going to give power to the negative - power to the hurt or living with the anger but instead we are going to move on.  As we do move forward with our lives, there is still room for those who afflicted the pain, should they choose to change their behavior.  There is still room for relationships to be had - but they will never be the same.  However, forgiveness does not always mean that relationships, human relationships, can be restored.  Sometimes the forgiveness is that both parties are able to move on, letting go of the past and creating a new future. 

Accepting forgiveness from God is one of the hardest things to do - especially when you feel unworthy; but truly giving forgiveness out can be another of the hardest things we do...partly because of the overwhelming feeling that it means things need to revert back and amnesia needs to set in and partly because truly moving forward is never easy.  But let me assure you that forgiveness is not about forgetting.  It is about moving on, moving past and allowing the new paths in your life to carry you to the future.  It does mean, accepting what has happened to you and accepting the wrong that was afflicted on you.  It also means accepting the person and the faults of the person who did the wrong.  It means accepting to trust again - putting yourself out there to continue to love, trust and live.  Once you have settled your forgiveness - you will not be the person you were before and your relationship will never be the same but you won't let either get in the way of the path that God has set before you.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Let Go and Let ...

I have what I would call a love/hate relationship with this phrase "let go and let God."  Partly because I would love to be that laid back person who just lets go and lives in the moment and yet I am not.  I am a person who is always wondering and always looking forward.  It is difficult to "release" up to God when your theology (probably because of your personality) says that being completely passive isn't a good thing either.

Every once in awhile a joke/ lessons comes across the emails and it goes something like this (I don't know who to credit for this but it isn't mine).  A flood was coming and a neighbor went to an older woman's house and offered her a ride out of town, the woman said that "God will take care of me" and decided to stay.  Then a police officer making rounds on foot stopped at her house and asked her to come with him to safety.  Again she exclaimed that "God will take care of me" and decided to stay.  Next as the flood waters were raising, a boat came to her as she stood in her second story window and asked her to get in and yet again she refused believing tat God would take care of her.  Finally as she was standing on the roof a helicopter lowered a ladder and asked her to grab it and she refused staying to her beliefs.  The next thing she knew she was standing in front of God and she proclaimed "why didn't you save me?"  God said "I sent a neighbor, a police officer, a boat and a helicopter, what more did you want?"

This story could have several lessons in it...but for me it always reminds me that we need to take an active roll in our lives and in our followings of Jesus.  That is isn't a laid back let Go of everything for to truly be following God we must be actively listening - perhaps as one of my parishioners said recently it is "Let go and Listen"

Either to let God or to listen, this is one lesson, I still need to work on.  Letting go and living in the transition.  Living in the time of the unknown and being OK.  With a new baby coming and the anticipation of that life changing event (how will our older daughter deal?  how more chaotic will our lives become?) letting go and not dwelling on the what ifs is truly important. 

So for me, my recent goal is to work on this...letting go to listen and let God lead instead of trying to take the reigns myself.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jesus' took on our sins...

I think that the hardest part for us as Christians is not the belief in the birth of Jesus but is instead the belief in resurrection and going along with that the availability to have complete forgiveness from our sins.
It seems to be one thing to say that Jesus forgives us of our sins and yet a completely different thing to say Jesus took on our sins and explain to people this concept.  As a pastor, I am always confronted by someone who just wants to belittle this and use this as proof that we Christians don't know what we are talking about.  I find however, that some of the facts that we accept easily with our beliefs are the hardest to unpack - especially for others.

In a society where there is more secular then Christian, we have now come to a place where more and more everyday Christians are meant to answer these theologically packed and loaded questions that even those of us with degrees have a hard time wrapping the answers up.

So...I have been thinking about this lately.  About how Jesus died for our sins, taking on the sins of the world.  and I have come to the conclusion that in order for him to have taken on the sins, he must have experienced them. But does that mean he must have committed them all?  By all means NO!  The idea "sin" is really the things that separate us from God - the things that keep us from having a full relationship with the Divine.

As I was reflecting on Jesus' final moments and the difficult part of Jesus' death in which he exclaims "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"  Albeit a quote directly from the psalms, still a pretty eerie thing for Jesus to say in his final moments.  Wasn't this God's plan?  Didn't Jesus understand the need for his death?  But there is SO much more here: it is here in these moments that Jesus is FULLY HUMAN and experiencing true sin so that we may be forgiven.  It is here in these few lines and this chilling call that Jesus truly understands what it means to have sin - to be separated from the divine relationship for here he accuses God of leaving him - of allowing him to suffer such pain. 

And perhaps he has a point in the later, but God never leaves us.   It is in our own sinful actions that we separate ourselves from God.  It is when we let the world, society or whatever we covet in it, consume us - leaving our relationship with the Holy to suffer.  It is then that we feel alone, or worse abandoned by God.  And Jesus had to feel this way, had to fully and truly be human in all our flaws in order for his death to bring us true salvation - true grace. 

You see Jesus wasn't perfect, I am sure I shared or at least will share some of the other places in the Bible that Jesus doesn't follow the "will of God" and strays from the Divine's plan, but we all do.  In order for Jesus to truly be our savior, his humanity had to be real and authentic.  That doesn't take away from his real and authentic divinity but it makes a good point at reminding us that Jesus wasn't a saint when he walked the Earth, he was a real "Joe."  If he wasn't then how could all of us real "Joes and Janes" expect to be saved through his life?

I hope this post brought new meaning behind "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" That you come to realize that in those moments, Jesus truly took on the sins of the world and yet when we in our deepest pain, in our grief and in our times of shame when we come before God believing that God has abandoned us, we can find solace in knowing that not only is God still there (for Jesus' divinity never left him!) but that God truly understands and knows our pain and took it on so that we might find peace.  Know that God never truly leaves us, it is us who leave the Holy.  Know that the Divine understands our humanity and yet still wants to offer us grace!  A pretty amazing thing!