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, December 25, 2012

Christmas

As I think about Christmas this year, I can't help but think about the Church Universal, the church individual and the hearts of all people who call themselves Christian, who love another Christian and who live within a nation of Christians.  I can't help but laugh at the 'War on Christmas' and ask myself if even those proclaiming the war really want Christmas to be about Christ.  For something does get lost in the holiday when we spend time buying up commercial gifts and putting them under our giant sparkly Christmas tree.  For Christ was born in a lowly manger, no crib for a bed.  For Christ was born to a poor family who were homeless (if only for a few nights), living on the street and living into the shame of Mary being unwed when pregnant. 

Jesus was not born into the glamor we have made Christmas to be.  Jesus was not visited by a jolly fat man nor were any of the noses of those manger creatures glowing.  Jesus was instead born into the peace of the clear midnight.  Into the stillness of the night he was born out of the love of God for humanity and into the loving arms of two parents who would see to it that he not only grew but grew to know love.

And that my friends is what Christmas is about - Christmas is about ONE present: Jesus.  A gift available for anyone and all who want to unwrap it.  Who want to accept it and to live into the greatest gift of all.

But the most important lesson from Christmas and Jesus' birthday doesn't come from what I just said, but instead the profound IMPORTANCE of this day is within whom God trusted the beloved Jesus.  You can debate whether Mary was a virgin another time - here we are taking about a young pregnant woman, whom God choose to fulfill the big plan.  God choose a woman and through her shame (becoming pregnant without being married), God taught all of us a lesson.  That EVEN in our shame, God is there.  Even in our sins (albeit Mary's wasn't due to sin), even in our darkest and lowest places, God is there.  And more importantly, God's will can transform a desperate situation.

We are all worthy of God's amazing gift through Christ.  Christ could have come as anyone - a rich man, an old man, an earthy king, ect... but instead Christ came as a child, born to an ordinary family (with perhaps a bit more shame than most).  We are all worthy of God's love which brought to us forgiveness in Christ. 

This is a powerful thought...the Christ child, God humble walking amongst us, came for the salvation of all - not just a few.  God's gift of a savior is so that all may come to believe, to feel and to be inspired by the gifts of forgiveness and love.  And so on this day, let us believe ourselves worthy...no matter our shame, no matter our life situation or our circumstances - believe and know ourselves to be worthy not only of the love that God has for humanity but the forgiveness that comes with accepting Jesus into our hearts.  Let us feel this forgiveness deep in our souls so that we may in turn spread the message of our savior.

Merry Christmas to ALL and to ALL a good night - knowing, believing and trusting not in gifts under the tree, not in turkey and family gathers, not in alcohol or drugs but in the Christ baby that came to show the world that God's love extends to even the most vulnerable. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

title?

Here are my ramblings of this week. 

First, I almost feel badly moving on from the horror of what occur last Friday in Newtown, CT...for me and my family life goes on as normal, but for all those in that town not only will life never be the same but only a week later the realities are just starting to settle in and the grieving that will come with this holiday words will not be able to heal. This week as a nation we mourned as we heard stories and many were buried...but on dec 25th Christmas and more like commercialism becomes the highlight. 

One of the reasons I liked being a hospital Chaplain was being there for people in there greatest time of need is such a holy and sacred privilege. Yet,  I always prayed that when the dust settled someone would be there for them...when the dust of this tragic event settles, I pray that these people and this town continue to find the support they need.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

is prayer too late?

As the events that took place yesterday morning in Newtown, CT begin to unfold and a timeline is created, many ask why pray now - for God didn't save those children.

No, God didn't save those children.  God didn't stop the events that lead up to this horrible event and didn't stop Adam from committing a horrific crime.  Instead evil prevailed and 20 young children were lost yesterday along with 6 of their teachers / caregivers.  As a nation, our heart is  weeping for the lost of so many, especially so many young.  Our heart is heavy with the knowledge that in less then 2 weeks Christmas will be here and so many families will be grieving instead of celebrating, unable to find the hope of the season. 

But does that mean that God has forsaken us? Left us?  Does events like yesterday prove that there is no God? Is our prayer really too late??? 

I had a previous blog on the fact that God doesn't leave us, we are the ones who push God out and ignore the Divine presence.  Events like yesterday don't prove that God has left us - God never promises that nothing bad will happen or that all good will come.  In fact, the idea of living in "all good" only comes with the Kingdom of Heaven not with believing and praying.  Bad is still going to happen, evil is still reigning and no matter how much church we attend or how hard we believe we are still left with the knowledge that bad things can still happen to us.  And no matter how much we want to see our county as "God's country" or a "Christian nation" the reality is that God stopped protecting "his chosen" when Jesus opened salvation to all. 

But God can still be found in the tragic events of Newtown.  God was in the teachers who shield the survivors and remained clam.  God was in the strength it took for the first responders to do their jobs even though most of them knew children in that building.  God was in the brave children who were able to escape that room and God was there with all those children during the shooting - providing a clam, strong and loving presence.  Amongst the chaos, God was there.  And now, the prayers are needed for those families who lost loved ones and for a community that will never be the same.

I am reminded of a quote I read in a book once: "More and more people find themselves drinking at the wells of each other's spiritual traditions, and engaging in a deep and common quest" (Jim Wallis). Collectively, we grieved yesterday and are still grieving today for the lost of so many.  Our prayers and thoughts going out to those families are helping to fill the wells that this tragic event has sucked dry.   As we continue to look to each other and to God for understanding, it is there in our prayers and in the connection of the Divine Spirit within us that we will find hope.  Hope in the future, hope in the Kingdom, hope in faith.

As Christmas approaches and for some of us the hope seems lost.  Let us remember that for many of those living in Mary and Joseph’s time, hope seemed lost.  They were being ruled by Rome, society wasn’t the same and it felt that God was missing – especially to many of those who were lower class.  And when this baby was born, the hope that he brought wasn’t understood – it took another 30+ years, a lot of teaching and a resurrection to fully understand the hope that this Emmanuel gave to the world. 
We might not ever understand when tragedy comes our way and we might never be able to stop the evil that still exists in this world.  But we can choose to find hope, hope in the knowledge of our faith – hope in the presence of the Divine – hope in the collective Spirit that transcends us all.  Even if this Christmas is still too early for us, if we begin to accept the Spirit within us, one day we might find the hope that Jesus brought us. 





Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Accepting of Gifts

I was taught (after some hurt feelings to some Uncles) that you receive gifts with a gracious heart, even if you don't like it.  In fact, unless it didn't fit, we didn't return anything.  I have these relatives that lived far away who often sent me clothes that were huge and instead of returning them, we wrote thank you notes, sent pictures as a way to hint our sizes, and went on.  If the item was hand made that it was even more important that we showed how much we appreciated the time they spent on the item.  It didn't matter that it wasn't our taste, they had obviously spent a lot of time on this and thus we should be gracious.  But this wasn't forced gracious - it wasn't fake behavior.  What we learned was to be thankful that they thought of us, they the person tried and that the gift giver took time, even if it was shopping, to get something for us.

But that isn't always the case.  I know someone who received what they had on their "list" last year for Christmas but it wasn't the color they wanted to the next day they took it back to exchange it.  And that has become the norm.  When I worked in retail the day after Christmas people returned things for the craziest reasons and not usually because the fit wasn't right.  When it comes down to it we have gotten it in our heads that we need to get "what we want" and people have restored to buying each other gift cards so that the recipient can get just what they want.  But when did gift giving become all about the actual gift we get and not about the spirit or occasion being celebrated?

And worse...is this "what we want," even down to color and shape, a parallel to our challenging the Christian faith?  Is God's amazing gift of grace through the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ not enough for us anymore?  Is God's will clashing with our own desires to the point that we are denouncing the faith to be Spiritual or to not believe?  

Recently a police officer in good will, gave a man a pair of boots and socks.  It was a great moment in which he didn't ask to be recognized.  Days later, the news couldn't leave it alone - let it just be a nice moment.  Instead they had to track down the man, only to find him not wearing the boots, there are now claims that he wasn't really homeless...we are ruining the graciousness of the action of the police officer because of the humanness of that man.  And we are doing that within our own Spiritual journeys as well -

We are ruining the graciousness of God - the true love that God has for us and the true forgiveness of our sins - by allowing the humanness to get in the way.  By not accepting God's gift - either because we let the world and sins get in the way, maybe because we ruin the spirit in which the gift is given (freely) because we don't feel we deserve it or maybe because we find so many flaws with in the gift (Christianity) that we can't accept it.

Jesus didn't come down to give each of us what we wanted or to be genie in which wishes are granted.  But instead to offer us a relationship with God like done before, a relationship in which grace and forgiveness rule.  So this Christmas, let us with open and welcoming arms, let God into our hearts ... and be thankful that although faith and religion isn't as perfect as it could be, it is coming from God and through the Spirit to us with our fate in mind and with love for each of us.  Let us spread love, respect, grace and Christ this holiday instead of gifts that fit into selfish desires.