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.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Like the Cool Kids

So there is a new song out, well ok, sort of new - "Like the Cool Kids" by Echosmith. I am not going to lie I am not sure what else this group sings and I had to google it for this post cause I wasn't sure who sang it, but nonetheless it is a great song.

AND we can all relate.  Much of our time and our life is spent trying to fit it - be it in high school, work and even our own families (or those we marry into).   Acceptance is one of the best feelings in the world and is what we as humans seek to find.  We hope the one we marry accepts us as who we are flaws and all, we hope that our parents love us no matter what we become and we hope that whatever "group" we belong to is willing to put up with us even on our bad days. 

For some time church has "failed" at being that place of acceptance.  Much of church is not about accepting all kinds but is instead about faking your way into a box.  That should change.  Not this isn't going to be another rant against the church for there are PLENTY of churches out there accepting all and any who come through their doors - I know personally one such church. 

Instead this is a blog that points to the bigger and more amazing thing about acceptance: GOD HAS ACCEPTED YOU THE WAY YOU ARE.  If God knows us before we are born and knows the kind of life we will lead, then God has already accepted us.  For those who proclaim Christ and come to know a relationship with God you can feel that love and acceptance.  God loves us - flaws and all. 

No matter who we are or where we are in life God wants to accept us and show us love. God wants to be in a relationship with us no matter how unworthy, lost or messy we think we are.  To God we are one of the cool kids and that is what is amazing.  God's love doesn't come with the strings that often love between humans comes with - it is unconditional.  God's love does require that we return the love and we give thanksgiving.

And the best part - even when we find ourselves feeling alone and no one could understand - God does.  Even when we find ourselves feeling like no one accepts who we are - God does.  The challenge then is not in knowing that God accepts us for who we are --- the challenge is to go that one step further and BELIEVE that God accepts us for who we are which means we much at the same time accept who we are. 

We have to accept all the negatives about ourselves that we have been trying to hid.  We have to accept the hurt we have caused or the pain that we have.  Or perhaps it is just simply accepting that we are perfect or that we can't do everything we want.  Maybe our lives are not a complete mess, but you still need to know that God's love is there.

Wherever you are on your faith journey, know that God accepts you, loves you and has claimed you as one of God's own.  Trust and believe that through that acceptance love is possible. 

It isn't about getting the "cool kids" to like you, it is about accepting God's true love for you and believing and knowing that through your faith all things are possible.  Release yourself from the fads of this world so you might be able to be engulfed by the love of Christ.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Baptism of the Lord Sunday

So a few weeks ago I found myself sitting in the pews listening to a Sermon on the Baptism of the Lord...I have now come to the very clear conclusion that on Baptism of the Lord Sunday's I should either be preaching or stay home drinking coffee! 

That's not to say the sermon I heard wasn't good - it was.  And I heard people talking afterwards and felt the spirit move in and through that sermon.  It certainty didn't leave me like one about 7 years ago did - still dwelling in the awe that the Pastor I heard preach was actually Presbyterian.  But it did leave me telling my husband on the way home (since he was the Preacher) all the theologically "problems" I saw with his sermon.  Below in dark purple is what I wrote one other time about Baptism.  But I wanted to highlight something that is truly an amazing part of my own religion - Presbyterian (PC USA) and why I stay a PC USA Pastor -- baptism. 

You see we have a unique view on Baptism, I say unique because most people when thinking about Baptism think about it in a VERY Roman Catholic way, even when you don't want to.  I can't tell you how many times as a Chaplain I have been called to the bedside of a family who wanted me to Baptism their infant who died in childbirth.  The Presbyterian in me always wants to run screaming "no" you don't have to do this!  But the Pastor in me, and perhaps the parent, understands the need for something to make this child official or at the very least mark this child life no matter how long as meaningful. 

I sort of digress...back to Baptism.  Baptism is not about getting into Heaven - it is not an assurance that one does get into to Heaven and it by all means does not make the Kingdom an exclusive club.  Baptism and the Kingdom are not mutually dependent.  In fact, people can and do receive the glory of Christ without being sprinkled with water!  God works in mysterious and wondrous ways.  God works within and through people, sometimes even without our knowledge, and most certainty knows the ways of our heart.  You can come to know Christ, to love Christ and to inherit the glory without ever being Baptized.  Baptism is a symbol and a recognition of your choice to follow Christ.  It is an outwardly sign of the things that have already taken place on the inside.  It is, also, a pledge to a church body to become a member, or to be raised up in the case of children's baptism.  It is a commitment from that same body to uplift you and nurture your Spirit.  Yes, our sins are washed away - but our sins are washed away through the amazing grace of Forgiveness.  For children that understanding isn't there yet but that doesn't mean the Spirit can't work in and through them. 

Baptism of the Lord Sunday is not a call to remind each of us to live into the Kingdom of God - whenever that may come.  But instead a reminder that we live each day for Christ.  We live in the here and the now - we live into the life that God has granted each of us and through our relationship with the divine we strive each day to spread that and to show others God's love.  Our purpose to living is not to inherit the Kingdom but is instead to live into the life of Christ in our lives - today! 

So begin today...not expecting that you just inherit the Kingdom because you have been Baptized.  Not just with the greed of privilege or expectation but instead live into the Christ, each day striving to be better then the last.

I love this festival day and find it to be one of my favorite days.  I love this day because of the sheer volume of theological discussion that surrounds this day.  For much of the early church the "problem" of when Jesus became divine was a huge point of contention.  Partly because the early believers had a hard time expressing and understanding how some one could be both divine and human.  Further confusing the point was Jesus' childhood and the question; why did Jesus actually get Baptized?  The virgin birth and the rising of the belief that Jesus was sinless his whole life just added to this messy debate.
And the theology we have today is the one that came out on top - and yet, I would say for many individuals all of these questions are still thought about!

In the early Church there wasn't room for those who saw Jesus' divinity any differently then believing he was divine from birth.  But even today, there are sects of the Christian faith - or at least individuals that see Christ's divinity moment at either his baptism or his death.  And is there any harm in that?

I prescribe to the fact that Jesus was divine from birth.  I believe however, that although Jesus knew he was called for something great - and knew he was called to do the Lord's work.  I am not so sure that he understood his divinity until the moment of his baptism.  Perhaps he thought himself a prophet.  In order for him to fully, truly and humbly experienced and live into his Humanity, I don't believe he could have done so knowing the full scale of his divinity.  Upon baptism, Jesus came to the full revelation of his divinity and his role in this world.

My view shouldn't shock you or uproot your own personal beliefs whatever they may be - you can believe him to be sinless, you can believe Jesus to be divine at the moment of the baptism or his death.

The Good News of Jesus Christ - would be the same message no matter what the historical or otherwise deemed "factual" information it holds. God's infinite vastness is beyond our full knowledge or conception.   The Gospels are our human way of getting to understand the awesome wonder...it is human witness, divinely inspired, but non-the-less human words shaped by human understanding trying to express what is almost impossible to express!

We have all felt the Holy in our lives.  We all understand that Holy in different ways.  Let us open ourselves up to the Holy that is around us.  So that within our own lives, The Good News of Jesus Christ can take its shape and transform our lives!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Love Remains

Working in an nursing home as a Chaplain can be a very interesting job.  For some it can take a toll and for others it can truly be a witness to God's amazing grace.  I am one of that later.

One of my favorite units to work in is the memory care - or the dementia unit. You never know what will happen there or what might be said.  But the reason why it is my favorite is because it is a true testimony to love and grace and how that works in the world and in our lives.

I stand in awe of the emotion of love and how it works even when our minds have seemingly forgotten.  It is truly touching when someone with severe dementia response to a family member's presence even when they cannot verbalize or even grasp at the relationship they once had.  It is a testimony to love when familiar and loving faces can calm down even a person's worse frustrated moment because amongst the chaos of life, love can transcend that moment and send calmness into the chaos.

This is the testimony to God's love.  That even when we can't understand the world around us or what is happening - God's love can transcend the chaos and find us.  Even when we feel like all hope is lost or we feel like we are in a room of strangers - the love of God can and will lead us out into the joy of life. 

Life is not usually a picture book of fairy tales but life doesn't have to be a horror story of destruction and death.  Life can be instead a testimony to God and the work of Christ in our life.  Life can be a reflection of our relationship with Divine instead of chaos.   It is all about how we accept and allow or even more correctly how we acknowledge God working in our lives and allow this to transform us.

If love can transcend the disease of dementia and bring some sense of security and safety to people who live in a constant state of confusion and mucky memories - then imagine what God's love can do for you!  It can transcend your situation and bring you out of your tunnel vision and into the reality of Creation. 

I challenge you to watch and open yourself to the love that transcends us and paves for us the path of Divine life and Creation.  I ask you to be aware of when God is offering love above the grey of the day and shinning for you hope and light.  Even on the best of days, God's rays of love shine around us.  I challenge you each day to find that ray of love and allow it to - even if for only a moment - transcend that moment into one of thankfulness and realization.  For love is truly the best and most powerful of our emotions and it is love and not hate that remains with us.

Go and love! Go and be love!  Go and feel love! For love remains in our hearts and minds...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Breaking Habit

I am a person of Habit...well at least I am.  But I am married to a person with ADHD and for him habits although they exist are often fleeting.  I prefer days that look the same and life that forms a rhythm.  And yet my days and our life becomes more complicated almost every year. 

As the kids get older and get involved in more the running around seems endless.  As we get more involved in Church business and as our schedules become more complicate the rhythm disappears to a seemingly chaotic rush. 

As we juggle our jobs, mine of which is part time, and childcare our life seems to fade from habit and into randomness.  And yet, the habits are there.  I still don't want to get up in the morning when my alarm goes off, praying for yet one more snooze before the day begins.  I cling to my breakfast of a toasted bagel and peanut butter, varying only when out of one or the other.  I hold tight to my weekly tuna sandwich and my chocolate milk after diner. I always put my purse in the same spot when I walk in the door.  I feed the animals in the same order every morning and I don't cave when the cat wants an extra treat in the evening!  Sadly I even do laundry on the same nights of the week and thus mostly wear the same PJ's on certain days.  Even in the midst of what seems to be a crazy schedule, I fall into the habits that bring me comfort in life. 

Some habits are worth breaking.  Each day when we awake anew, we are reminded of what the Lord has created and of the grace that comes before us.  We are given a new chance and a new opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the divine.  But with our habits of the day - do we truly find time to be with the Lord?  I read a Bible passage each day, I pray over my meals and I speak to God often - but am I doing enough to really take time to strengthen my relationship with God.

The problem when things become a habit is that they become comfortable and not only comfortable they become common.  When God becomes a habit in our life, we take for granted the true relationship we are being offered.  We fail to work at that relationship.  Like my peanut butter toasted bagel every morning, God just becomes one more comfort in our life - which isn't bad.  But a relationship with God deserves more then just a wash down with morning coffee - it deserves praise and worship.  To truly be connected with the Holy we need to go beyond our comfort zone and into a true relationship that pushes us to be more and to seek more.

I encourage you to BREAK out of habit.  One of the ways we as a family are breaking out of habit, is on Wednesdays at dinner time we are trying something new - dinner with God.  We are going to offer new prayers and new music while we eat.  We will discuss a Bible passage and try to encourage our kids to go beyond our nightly reading, beyond the memorized prayer at meals and into a relationship with God that is deeper and more fulfilling.  One not just meant to keep us full for a few hours or a day but one that is meant to sustain us even when life seems to much.

Let us break the habit of God and walk into a relationship with the Creator that opens doors and windows and paths to newness and light - to praise and worship - to life and the Kingdom beyond!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Light in the Dark

I came back to work today after taking a week vacations.  Living into vacation life over the holidays I didn't read the newspaper, hardly checked FB and basically lived "off the grid" while I enjoyed my children, my family and most of all the relaxing time of no stress.  It was a beautiful way to spend the holidays and I feel especially blessed I was with my family.

However, when I "came back" I realized how much I had missed, another plane disappeared and the tragic recovery; a cruise ship fire; a transgender suicide and in my own little world a parishioner in need of hip surgery / recover as well as several of my Nursing Home residents deaths.  In light of all this sadness, I at first felt a bit of guilt for my joyful and enjoyable holidays.

And then I began to reflect on my own "Blue Christmas" eve service.  It  wasn't a popular attendance, but those that did attend had lost - one a sister-in-law and one a good friend.  Others too had losses this year or were widows.  I spoke of the shepherds who received the proclamation of Christ.  And imagined their life prior to that moment.  It was an ordinary day and on ordinary days things happen.  Yes for the most part our days have rhythm and for the most part our days are not full of grief.  But some days are better then others and some days are better off not remembering.  Some days are "for the dogs" and other days are full of love and life we only wished they lasted forever.  We do not know what kind of day the shepherds were having when they saw the angel.  We only know they were ordinary people living their every day life.  For some this day could have been full of wonderful things - birds and songs, beauty and love; for others this day could have been full of lost, disappointment and struggles.  And yet, the angel appeared before them and offered them the great news - the light in the darkness.

For some of us the holidays were full of light and the birth of Christ just magnified that.  We were with the people we loved, we were celebrating togetherness and most of all we were feeling the generous spirit of the Lord. 

But that isn't the holidays for everyone and certainty for those who lost loved ones or sat with those who were dying the darkness might have been very deep.  But I do hope that we can remember that Jesus' light didn't come to shine one day a year or to only brighten up our life - but instead to enter our hearts and bring this lightness to everyday.  To all we do and all we are!  But most of all to bring hope even when the hope seems lost.  To bring light even into the darkest of our human emotions and journeys and shine for us a path to a new day. 

Let us rejoice not in the day that was Christmas - Let us not curse a Christmas filled with spoils.  Let us instead rejoice that Christ's light shines for us each and everyday.  And that in our ordinary and plain lives, comes a greatness that can bring hope and restore our souls.

So this is for those who felt for the light switch this holiday and couldn't find it - keep searching.  The angels appear to the shepherds on an ordinary day and in a ordinary place.  God finds us too, wherever we are - don't turn your back on a God who so loves you and wants a wondrous relationship with you.  Spend 2015 finding God in the ordinary and your life might take on an extraordinary change!