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.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ashes to Ashes

It was Ash Wednesday several years back.  It was cold and the fresh white snow filled the parking lot to the point that I prayed I'd find a spot.  Thankfully I found one, perhaps farther then I would have liked on this cold day, but better then the road.  I had arrived to offer Ashes for Ash Wednesday.  I wasn't conducting a service, my usual experience, but was called in to fill in for a chaplain at the local nursing home who couldn't offer Ashes this day.  So I found myself, wondering a building a barely new offering Ashes on heads of people whom I just learned their names.  It was interesting.  It was challenging.  It was moving.

Ash Wednesday is a *hard* day for Protestants.  Many Protestants didn't celebrate this Holy Day coming out of the Reformation for some time, some Protestants still don't celebrate it or even see a need for it.  Some believe it to be "too Catholic."  But there I was out of my element, being asked over and over again by people "What is this Ash Wednesday Business?"  As I tried to explain that it was a fast day or that it marked the beginning of Lent and that we used Ashes to mark ourselves with the sign of the cross to remind ourselves that we were created out of dust and to dust we shall return - we are all sinners and we must repent (is the gest).  I explain it was an outward sign of our inward covenant with God to take Lent seriously. 

The Catholics didn't need an explanation and ready their forehead for the grey dust to sit.  And yet, very few Protestants accepted.  That is until I arrived at one door.  This door I knew, inside this door was a wonderfully petit woman who did not remember knowing me, but I knew her.  I knew her through the eyes of her husband.  He was a retired Presbyterian Pastor, he was a mentor of mine and perhaps one of the most inspiring Pastor's I'd met.  She was filled with the same glorious and gracious spirit as him.  The Spirit just beamed out of her.  She gladly shook my hand and accepted the ashes with pride.  As I finished placing the ashes on her forehead she broke out into song, singing "Old Rugged Cross" - a gift her dementia had not yet taken from her.  She did not miss a line or a verse and together in our off-key and perhaps even off melody voices we sung.  In that moment the Ashes of Lent meant something.  In that moment we were transformed from a going through the motions of the rite into knowing the joy of the rite. 

Yes Ash Wednesday is about accepting and acknowledging that we are all sinners.  Yes it is an outward symbol of the Lenten journey we are about to embark on.  But YES it is a reminder that the story does not end in the wilderness of temptation but instead with the glory of the Kingdom.  It marks a time for us to truly contemplate our lives and our journey; to reflect on the sins that keep us ground from our relationship with Christ and to truly be reminded as to what it means not only for us a the Church but for us as individuals that Christ lived, died and rose.

As I continued offering Ashes that day, I couldn't help but be reminded that God works in amazing ways.  Perhaps all those people needed ashes that day but God allow for my presence there because I needed to sit with this forgetful woman of God and be reminded why Ash Wednesday is truly a day to celebrate and to contemplate.  Yes it is not the cheerful and joyous celebration we see on Easter but it is filled with joy.  Knowing, trusting and believing that the glory of God awaits in the Kingdom.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Art of Understanding

Sitting in her chair, white hair recently permed by the hairstylist into a frozen dome shaping her face and small skull I find one of my regular patients.  She is in her 90's a full 60 years older then me and yet the age difference seems to flee away in conversation; so much so that often she forgets how young I am and asks me about my grandchildren.  Being the fact that she is in a nursing home, some might see this slip up as proof that she has dementia or that her mind is slipping but this woman's mind is far from slipping - her body yes is failing her but her mind is sharper then mind some days (especially days when I don't get a lot of sleep).

The age difference gets transform by her comfort and knowledge that I understand her woes.  She often comments to me about the fact that she feels I understand.  And even more importantly points out that my sermons on Sunday uplift her because she knows they come from a place of understanding.  Now I am not trying to raise myself up here, what I am trying to talk about today is the importance of understanding the other. 

At some point in childhood - usually before Kindergarten - our world transform and we begin to understand the other.  If you watch young children play they play side by side but often not right with each other; watching older children play you see how their imaginations work together and their play is enhanced by the other. 

It is important for us to come to understand and truly want to know the others.  But one human need that is real is being FELT understood.  For us as Christians this is one way in which we can truly spread God's love and Christ message.  You see Christ walked this Earth; God humbly walked amongst us so that through his life and death the Holy could say that he truly walked in our shoes.  Jesus walked amongst us and knows our pains.  Even when we feel alone and that no one could possibly know what we are going through, we must be reminded that EVEN God humbly walked as a human in order to KNOW.  

That is powerful stuff.  The need for others to understand and the desire to combat loneliness is a big part of our human story.  We all go into relationships because of this and we maintain those relationships for the same desire.  Yet, not everyone does understand.  How powerful could our Christian impact be if instead of condemning or judging we could try to understand the other? 

Sure we have not lived out every possible situations - some may never know true poverty, others may not grieve as young, some may never battle addiction or depression, others may never lose their sight or hearing, some may never be labeled for the color of their skin and others may never know the pains of war - but that does not stop us from being able to understand.  A gift of humanity is that we have the capacity for compassion and the ability to understand the other's needs. 

As Christians we are called to follow this.  God set an example - humbly walking amongst us!  It was not even beneath the GREAT DIVINE to experience the depth of humanity and human emotion.  It was not even beneath the HOLY ONE to come to the understanding of the other.  So let us not sit on our Great Than Thou horses.  Let us come to the understanding that we are called by our Creator to truly show love and understanding to all we meet. 

We are not meant to judge or put people down for their situations but instead we are called to lift up their lives and believe that through Christ anything is possible.  We are called to connect, not on the level of which we have experience but instead on the level of which we are called to understand.  I might not know what it is like to lose control of the body slowly or what it is like to need assistance to do daily skills.  But I do know how I would feel if I needed someone to help me in the bathroom, or how frustrated I can get when I am without a limb due to injury.  I can understand the isolation of the building and the mundane rhythm of each day being the same.  And yet in these states, we are called as Christians not accept them or to let them define us but instead rising above them find where the Holy is still calling us.  We are called not to judge those who suffer but instead through Christ and by being Christ's body in the world, bring life and light to those who suffer; bring meaning and love and most importantly bring to them a God who understands their pains, bore them and rose above them so that all might one day know the Kingdom.    

Sunday, February 8, 2015

1...2..3...Meltdown is a GO

Chaos.  That is the definition of mornings at my house.  With two, soon to be three children, a husband who deals with ADHD, 3 animals + a fish tank and well all the other crazy stuff about mornings we are lucky when we arrive on time and we are even more lucky when we get there with everyone in one piece. 

Mornings are also the perfect hectic and also peaceful mix of moments that they become ground zero for meltdowns.  Let's take the most recent 2 year old meltdown.  We were having a normal morning and at this point it was a peaceful moment, he was eating cereal and enjoying his sister across the table.  I came down the stairs with his outfit for the day - a Captain America shirt and a pair of pants, what I thought was a safe bet.  I hear the words "BATMAN" come out of his mouth before I realized he was upset about the shirt.  And he continued to chant "Batman, Batman, Batman"  So of course I decided this wasn't a fight worth making and said when was done he could go pick out his own shirt.  Fast forward to the shirt he brings down, yup it is a batman shirt but it has a cape and the cape is "missing"  Now, this is when chaos is in rare form - we are now going to be running late because we have to find this cape...and it is no where.  I didn't remember folding it, I didn't remember putting it away and the husband can't find it upstairs.  We get him to at the very least put the shirt on while we are looking for the cape and it hits me - he wore the cape last when we went out and I bet the cape landed in the diaper bag!!!  Yeah! We inform of this and his melt down settles a bit, enough to finish dressing him and start to leave.  As we drive away from the house ... we realize two things: 1. we never checked the diaper bag for said cape and 2. we left the diaper bag in the mudroom (luckily we keep diapers/wipes and a spare set of clothes in the car). He never forgot about his cape all day and no matter what he couldn't understand why we didn't have it and/or why it was missing.

Experiencing meltdowns with children can be taxing.  Every parent has different advice and ways to get around this.  That particular morning was earlier then usual for everyone involved and so sleepiness played an important factor in everything that happened.

But what I come away from each of this wonderfully challenging days is the true understanding of how we as humans adapt to change and how we come to understand the world around us.  You see, we don't really ever let go of the 2 year old in side of us that just wants to melt down when things don't go right - we just learn and involve ways to cope.  I see this in my 4 year old that has way fewer meltdowns then she used to.  Yes in part it is because she understands the world more and realizes that some things we just cannot control but more importantly she has learned to deal with those changes in better ways then meltdowns.  She has begun to learn to adapt and to know that flexibility is often a necessity of life. Everything is not always the same. 

For us as Christians this can be very true about our relationship with the Divine and also the church.  This is also true with our relationship with the Bible - how we interpret and how we see it should be interpreted (please check out blog post on Living Word).   As a Christian our faith and our relationship with the Divine gets challenged a lot.  We could be having a peaceful day or think we have come to a good point in our understanding of the Holy working around us and something happens that affects this.  It usually isn't as small as the shirt we want to wear ;-) but it can be as simple as the day starting off on the wrong foot.  Either way, whatever rocks our relationship with the Divine can lead us to living into confusion and fear.  Letting the realities of the "bad" cloud over the good and essentially ruining the progress we made. 

Because he never got his cape for his batman shirt, everything that day was "bad" and he didn't let fun get in his way.  My son lived into the negativity of the meltdown and the no cape to the point that he didn't live and have fun.  Too often we allow the circumstances around us define and stop us from living the life that we could be living.  We let the would-have-been adult meltdown to be an actually meltdown stopping us from seeing the Holy in our every day life and situations. 

Life is not perfect...nor does life usually turn out as planned (well at least by Human plan) but with a little bit less whine and a lot more Holy let in our life can be more then we ever hoped for.  So don't let adult meltdowns get in the way of your relationship.  Don't let misunderstandings stand between you and the Divine.  But more importantly don't let yourself get so caught up in your own wants/ desires that you cannot see what God has done in your life and for you. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Super Heroes Never Give Up

I wake up every morning the patter of small fit coming into my room and the loud voice of a two year old exclaiming "wake up!"  It is the bright and shining face of our son, soon to be the middle child.  He is so cheerful in the morning, I still need coffee in order to measure up to his cheer factor (and perhaps another hour of sleep?!).  Lately though he comes in ready to start his day, not as my son who I gave a wonderful name to but instead as ....wait for it...Batman! (cue theme song) or perhaps today it will be Superman or Spiderman.  Either way we are in that wonderful stage of pretend and play.  When my daughter was this age she wore the SAME outfit with DORA on it for 14 weeks, of course it went into the wash each night and in the morning she would wait at the dryer until she could put it on. 

Back to Batman...or whichever hero he chooses for the day (he even has been known to be Wonder Woman).  When he is batman, he wanders the house in this costume which reveals only his mouth and a couple of slits for eyes.  He has to walk carefully as he can barely see and yet that doesn't stop him.  He laughs and thinks that he is indeed batman.  When you call him for food, he exclaims "NO BATMAN" if you failed by calling him by his birth name. He doesn't know much about these Super Heroes that he loves except that they must be cool.  He knows that spider man has webs and superman flies; he knows that batman has a tool belt and that hulk is super strong.  He doesn't know that people can't fly and we are awaiting the day he flies down the stairwell.

As he is living the life of a full fledge super hero, our daughter who is older and of course much more knowledgeable then her brother in this matter is helping him learn.  The other day he was frustrated - mostly because the limitations that come with wearing his Batman costume - it is not meant to be wore 24/7 and is not as comfortable as his PJ's.  In his frustration he was giving up, so his older sister (who is 4) comes up to him and explains that "Super Heroes never give up."  And reminds him that Batman should be teaching him this.

Super Heroes never give up.  This is so true.  When they are fighting it out with the bad guys, who never die and always return they don't give up.  How long can the Joker and Batman truly wage war against each other before it gets old?  I am surprised that the story lines of Superman and Lex Luther just don't get so "been there, done that" that the comic book fans just stop reading. And yet, they don't and their heroes don't give up either. 

Recently we were at a Presbytery meeting - in which we felt like we need "Super Fun hero" to show up and save the day from just plain mundaneness.  But I digress.   Someone brought up once again a bunch of negative stuff - dwelling in the past and also in the negative future.  Another person stood up and pointed out that if we knew everything that was going to happen to us in our life, we may never get out of bed - because life is full of bad things.  But life is also full of good and it is dealing with the bad that keeps us moving forward - life is about coping.  Being a Christian is about knowing you are not dealing with all the bad alone - that you have God and a community of Church to lean on. 

Being a Christian is knowing that God never gives up on us.  And that we shouldn't give up either.  Life might feel like one big battle between you and your own joker - or lex luther - if you are dealing with addiction, depression, abuse, ect... life might be one big battle between you and your joker but if we can take anything away it is that we should never give up.  Life is about living it to the fullest.  Fighting our battles and celebrating in life's triumphs.  Life is about the days when things are going smoothly and the world around us is balanced and peaceful.  But life is also about the days when we struggle to keep the positive or when bad things just seem to be pilling up in front of us. 

We can either choose to be the Super Hero of our own story.  Perhaps leaving the costume at home and just living the anonymous life but never giving up.  Letting God in our life and bringing Christ's love to the world.  Or we can choose to block out the light, to let the bad stuff pile up so high that the sun cannot shine through and dwell in the darkness.

I think we can all say (cue theme song) .... we would rather live into God's grace and love.  Never giving up but instead embracing the trails knowing that we aren't alone but instead God is with us.  Giving us each the strength and courage to defeat the evil around us.  Making us all super human through the love and forgiveness given through grace.