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, October 30, 2016

Following up on Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes is at points the “realist” and at other points the true pessimist.  The lament is real, powerful and strong.  What is human legacy?  What is the purpose of life?  What is our relationship with God good for?  These are all strong and real questions.  I just can’t count the number of people I have encountered who sounded just like the voice in Ecclesiastes without ever reading it.  Its placement in the Bible is wonderful for Pastoral reasons.  It is really great to point out that yes our Bible can have the real and raw emotions of life and yet still be considered “biblical.”   

There are so many seasons in our life.  It would be impossible to name all the seasons we go through, all the changes in our life be them big or small.  Life is a series of transitions that we either accept or fight. There are points in our life when the transitions are small and we don’t even notice they happened and other times when standing in the crossroads we choose which way to go.  

There is a time to open doors and a time to close them.  A time to roll up your sleeves and a time to throw up your hand.  There is a time to jump in the mud and a time to leap the puddle, a time to follow the rules and a time to break them, a time to take a drink and a time to stay sober, a time to raise kids and a time to retire.  There is a time to cheer and a time to boo, a time to fall and a time to get up again, a time to remember and a time to forget.  Of course there is also a time to love and a time to continue loving.

Keeping our relationship with God strong allows for these times to come and go.  Through God our times of lament pass so that our times of praise can be strong; without times of lament we would not know the fullness of praise that we can offer God.  Let us rejoice in all the “times” of our life and embrace the transitions that come trusting in the assurance of seasons.

And it is trusting in the assurance of seasons that brings the pessimistic voice into the voice of optimism. It is in knowing there is rhythm of life. That today might be one thing but tomorrow something new might come along. It is within this rhythm that we strive to let each moment sink in and not take for granted all the beauty around us. It is within this rhythm that we get up each morning trusting and knowing that today could be different. And it is in this rhythm that we not only need God but we find God.

God is in every moment. God is in the moments we don't like and in the moments we wish would last forever. God is in our doubts and most importantly God is there when we feel like the voice in Ecclesiastes that life really isn't worth that much. God is there when we see and experience all moments of life. In fact, it was so important that we know God is there even in our times of lament that powerful books and passages were selected for our Bible to remind us of that!

There is a season for everything, a time to believe without question and a time to doubt. A time to wonder and a time to know, a time to be curious and a time to be wise, a time to listen and a time to tell, a time to know and a time to question and of course a time to believe and a time to take a leap! Let us all leap into the unknown trusting in the God that we meet each day.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

At God's dinner table...

...  recently I was challenged to fill in the ... after this question, I thought I would share.

At God's dinner table there is a marvelous feast. All are welcomed, loved and find the nourishment they need.  Nothing is grand; and yet it is all grand.  There is beauty in the craftsmanship of the table; it is carved out of ancient trees that rose to the heavens.  Heavy from its own weight it is solid and sturdy.  However, everyone has brought their own chair to this party.  There are big chairs, small chairs, folding chairs and plastic chairs.  No matter what their chair, every one is equal seating here.  Some things are strangely familiar while other things are favorites.  Some people are known while others are new faces.  The end of the table cannot be seen with the naked eye and yet God's presence is all around and everywhere.  Christ's chair remains empty in the middle, titled and anticipating.  The Holy Spirit moves through the love that cannot be denied.  Love permeates the air and lingers with the smells of the feast.  The table is engulfed by the beauty of God's creation.  All have come to celebrate in the joy and love.  Arrival for some is later then others, but the feast welcomes those who are late and continues on.  Some arrive searching for familiar faces and move on, others join in the celebration around me.  The colors from the feast explode in the air, creating a sense of fullness with very little eaten. Love extends around the table, abounding people in hope.  God's presence invites people into new places and a love affair with God continues.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Such A Time As This

So far I have avoid actual political blogs.  Partly because I do think that each of us must make those decisions for ourselves and our family.

Yet this political season is filled with such hate and anger that my heart weeps.  That we have come to a place in our nation that we let our personal opinions on candidates dictate our friendships and hurt our families is awful.  And yet I write those words with the compassion as one who struggles with choices family members are making.

At the beginning of this political season I hoped that the republican party would simply split and one of the more mainline people (a certain person from Ohio) would take the nomination.  He had my vote in the primary.  As the election went on and slowly but surely only two remained it became clear to me that this season isn't about the candidates that we have chosen to hate, it is instead about the society that is moving to fast.

For some of us progress is not only good and natural but it isn't new.  Once I left the town I was born into and moved to Atlanta, GA my world was opened.  I had a gay hairdresser that liked to dress in drag and I never knew which personality was going to cut my hair.  I worked in an office that helped transgender people to look more like the gender they identified with.  I went to a school that had diversity.  I was't just told woman could do and be anything, I believed it.  I knew I would be a leader one day.  To me gay rights and marriage equality laws just make sense.  To me, it was a social injustice that my friends didn't get medical information or inheritance or even insurance with those they loved.

But now I live in rural upstate NY.  Where everyone is not only white but they are blond and blue eyed! (Ok that last part is only a small lie).  Where not that many people come out of the closet and were my kind of theology is not only "pushing the limits" but is just plain "unChristian" in some eyes.  Here men go to work and woman do whatever they can to help their families' end meet; some work, some do farm work, some stay-at-home.  Some are open minded but those ones usually leave.  In this America things have moved fast for them.  In this America they are losing their jobs because factories are closing for bigger, better and more mechanical ones; clean energy is replacing nuclear plants and age is hurting buildings.  Here most people are poor.  And here, slowly the role of the "man" is being taken away.  There are men who are staying at home with the children or working on the house or doing whatever while the woman goes out and makes the money.  This role shift in a city might not seem like a "big deal" but for those who identity revolves around providing for their families, this is not a reversal that is taking ground.  Men are losing their identity.  And unlike little girls who we proclaim can be "anything they want to be." We are not providing that same message to our little boys. More women are getting higher education then men.

America is divided not just in the cities with the suburbs and the inner city, not just with the blacks and the whites; we are divided by the men and the women.

The paradox that this election has created with the over-the-top male vs. the typical step on any one to get to the top female needs to be discussed.

Were we ready 8 years ago for a black President? Some of us were for sure! But it has opened my eyes to the real racism that still exists today.  And for sure has this election been an eye opener to the real problems in America - problems that are not being addressed.

Churches are full of these woman.  And many churches are reaching out to those in the rural areas.  But again, if we do not address the needs we cannot address the problems.  We cannot make more jobs we don't have that kind of prayer power.  But we can listen and we can create room for families, of all shapes, sizes and of course roles.  We can help our children by instilling in them an identity of who they are as PEOPLE, as children of God.  Instead of asking them "what do you want to be?" ask them "what kind of person do you want to be?"

Recently for a project I had to ask a few people a couple of questions, I thought I would get my daughters 6 year old opinion.  When I asked her what she wanted her legacy to be, what she wanted people to remember most about her, she said "that I cared for them."  This is a much better answer then when previously asked, by someone else, what she wanted to be when she grew up and responded "the first bunny officer" (referring to Zootopia).

When Nov 9th comes, no matter who is president, we have relationships that need to be mended.  Recently the news reported that the election is causing anxiety, of course it is!  The news won't stop talking about it, even when they are talking about the anxiety of it all.  This has become a circus not an election.  We live in America.  We are suppose to be the examples of democracy to the world, a world in which we have for many decades been pushing our way of thinking and our elections on.  We have shamed countries for their mis-use of the elections or their inability to accept defeat.  Yet, here we are discussing these same problems within our own country.

Awhile ago heard an expert of some sort on the radio proclaim that democracy is an experiment that won't last.  Eventually we will be ruled by some sort of dictator.  This was well before this election but I can't help but feel that we have to be better then this.  We have to be!  We have to show the world that America is better then this.  That we do uphold our values and that we are a true democracy not a mud-fight.  That as Al Gore did in the 2000 election with Bush, realize when you have to fold them.  He walked away, he showed how American leaders really can not only be great but act in the "better" of the common good.

I don't want to know who you vote for on November 8th, but I want to know that on November 9th, as Americas we will stand with our newly elected President ready to move forward.  Ready to address the issues that really need to be addressed in this country.  Ready to restore relationships and most importantly ready to work on the future.  Let someone lose with dignity so that we can raise above this election season and show the world that although America can at times be at their worst, we also have our best!  And let us show the world the identity of our diverse nation as one that stands together instead of one that lets leaders pull us apart!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A reflection on this week

I have had an interesting week.  I have meet some new colleagues, went to a RC Mass, held 3 memorials, celebrated with some Jewish folks both Rush Hashanah and Yom Kippur, held a Bible study, sat with the dying, played at a playground with my almost 2 year old, went to the zoo with the kids, went on 2 hikes, bowled, worried about Hurricane Matthew and my family, talked to family and prepared a sermon.  Not to mention the mundane house work that is not finished and always there.  With all that, I thought about listening to God and also the Spirit working in and through me. 

As my family took precautions for the Hurricane, I thank God that we live in a time of cell phones and text messaging.  We communicated and we kept in touch.  We watched the news and the play-by-plays of what was going on in and around their houses, as they had been evacuated.  On Facebook I kept up with other friends I knew I needed to worry about.  Everyone is safe, the storm has passed and the world will continue on.  Their worlds may have changed, but their lives are fine.  Listening to some of the stories, you hear about dinners or restaurants that are opening up and feeding anyone and everyone without charge.  You hear the stories of those rescue workers and other first responders who stayed in the storm to make sure others were safe.  You hear the stories of deep human compassion and love and you know that God is there.  God is here! In our lives and working around us. 

God is here!  God is in our weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds.  God is in the busy, the mundane and the chaos.  God is in our loss and in our pride.  God is in our lives. 

With all that was going on in my life this week and as I was reflecting on listening to God's spirit I couldn't help but also see some of the negative.  Some of the anger and harsh voices that are pulling us apart.  Some of threats that are being made to each other and the stray we have made from simply "do unto others as you would want done to you."  We have not living into that.  Christians across this country have not been living into the commandment to love our neighbors.  It should need to take a natural disaster for us to care about each other. 

We need to find compassion and love for each other.  Each day of my life I try to live into compassion and love for everyone.  And yet, I don't always get compassion and love back.  Just this week I was in a traffic jam, a guy started driving along the shoulder and passed by me and the car in front of me.  That shoulder car honked his horn.  The guy in front of me thought it was me and for a good 10-15 minutes of being in front of me continued to show signs of road rage at me.  I didn't respond in kind, but I did think it shows how easy we are to anger. 

As we walk our journey with God we are called to be disciples of Christ or a better word would be Ambassadors for Christ in the world.   We are called to be on our best and show our best to the world.  How do you think Christ would react if he could speak to us today directly about our lives?  How do you think he would react to our own reactions to the world?  I am pretty sure that most of the time Christ would be disappointed with how we use his name and do "his biddings." 

We are called to show people that God is here!  That no matter what is going on around us or what disaster has come our way that God can and does work within and through people!  That grace abounds around us and that God's love is worth spreading.  That compassion is better then judgment. 

But we have forgotten our roots.  We have forgotten where we come from and where we are going.  We surely have forgotten.  America is not a Christian nation for we are not being Ambassadors of Christ in the world.  Instead we are being judge and jury to refugees we don't know who have gone through horrors we hope we never will.  Instead we are tearing each other a part over Presidential Candidates that will only last a few short years.  Instead of love and compassion we are throwing out anger and hate.  Instead of listening to God we are allowing the Devil to take hold.

Thankfully, God is still here.  Thankfully, there are those who have chosen love and compassion.  Thankfully, grace abounds for all of us.  Thankfully, we all have our own lives of chaos and mundane mixed together in which we can prove ourselves worthy Ambassadors.  So I challenge you to be a worthy ambassador this week.  To let whatever happened to you this week to move you forward.   


Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Tremble of Grief

Leaning through the van door to unbuckle my two-year old from his seat I jump from an unfamiliar sound.  "What's that, Mommy?" my son asks.  "I don't know."  "Maybe an Elephant" he suggests.  "sure" I say as I am trying to non-verbally hurry him along.  It is sprinkling out, I still have another child to put into the wrap I've already tied around me and I am in the parking lot of the zoo on a day that I had better things to do.
Again I hear the sound, it is low and long.  It isn't a roar, yet it isn't the normal elephant noise.  Whatever it is, it sounds like distress.  And it is times like this that I begin questioning how good is a zoo (but that is a question I am not getting into today.)

After he picks up on my cues that we are suppose to be moving and not just lagging behind in the car, he starts speeding up the process of disembarking from the car and starting our adventure - the zoo in the rain.  Luckily for now the rain isn't bad and for now we can mange.  But as I see the buses of children arrive for a school field trip I am less then excited to be on this adventure. 

Finally we come to the lion den and we learn what this weird noise is.  It is the lion.  She is alone in the den sitting in a lounge position, everyone is getting great photos.  After a few minutes she stands up and from deep inside her body she lets out this low and long and loud noise - it is coming from deep and her body is trembling with the noise.  It is not quite a purr but it isn't a roar.  I had never heard such a noise and I began to worry about this beautiful creature.  Was she OK?  I wasn't sure.  It didn't sound like a happy noise but instead a noise made in pain.  Come to find out, she is mourning.  Recently she lost the other lions (the male and other female) that she had lived with.  They died.  And in her grief and sadness she called out.  It was beautiful.  All of a sudden the others were all sad for this lion and many felt pity for her but I was overwhelmed with wonder and awe.  As I always am when I see animals grieve. 

As humans we like to think we are much more evolved then the creatures around us and yet when it comes to our instincts and our raw emotions we aren't that different.  It is in wonder that I watch other animals grieve and understand the sense of loss.  It only enhances our understanding of human grief and loss.  And the emotion of pity that all those felt for the lion, stems from their own understanding of loss and grief in their own lives.  They could project that feeling on that lion. 

When I worked at the hospital I was called to a unit one evening for a women who had died.  It was not completely unexpected, however it was a little faster then most thought.  Her daughter, a friend and her daughter's friend were in the room and as the custom in their tradition they were waling.  It was this deep noise that comes from within and as it comes out with the force of the whole body, the body trembles and the wale escapes.  When I got to the room, I realized I was called up not because these women need Spiritual care but because the unit wanted them stop.  It was late in the evening and people were trying to sleep not to mention the noise was basically freaking out the staff.  So we moved into the hallway outside of the unit to finish - although there would be more waling at the funeral.  When the daughter expelled her final wale she stood up, wiped her face off with the back of her palms and headed back into her mother's room calmly to say goodbye. 

When we are struck with loss it is within our nature for our bodies to express the overwhelming feeling that fills us up.  Even if we don't make a physical sound, the body often slumps over or our heads hang low.  In a real way we are struck with the emotion of grief and it hits us in the core of our bodies. 

Therefore grief is an emotion that needs to be felt and to be expressed.  Grief is not an emotion to hold in or to hide.  This powerful lion was no less of a threat to us - had there not been glass - now that she was grieving.  She still was a beautiful and powerful beast, yet in her expression of grief, I was not struck by her weakness but instead her strength.  Her body held her up, even through the tremble.  Her voice strong and clear sent out the sounds of distress.  Her expression of grief was one that transcended above species as I could clearly hear her distress before knowing the source of the sound. 

In our own grief we must be comfortable in expression.  We must not let grief build inside us but instead allow it to transcend us.  All our grief to shed light on our relationship with the Creator and bring us closer to knowing the Spirit that dwells within us.  We can learn from letting go of our emotions instead of letting our emotions take hold of us.  Let us, the next time we experience loss, lift up our grief to God and in that moment let our emotions of loss and fear transcend into moments of hope and love.
 
By allowing ourselves to feel, to grieve and even more importantly by allowing God into those moments we are healing.   Grief is something that must be addressed. If not the pains become so great that instead of a loud whelp that comes out anger and rage take hold.  Instead of doing justice to the memories of those we love, our lives turn into shells and love turns on us.  We must allow ourselves to feel.  We must allow ourselves to feel the love of God and to know the grace of God abounding even in the worst moments of our life. 
 
As we watch the news and see the world around us we know there to be lots of grief.   We know there to be loss of lives and senseless acts of violence.  We don't have to go very far each day to see the impact of death.  Outside my job as a chaplain, I personally know 3 people this week who lost a loved one.  We cannot turn ourselves off when lost comes.  We cannot let grief take hold but instead we must allow ourselves to mourn.  We must allow the grief to escape our bodies with tears that proclaim "why?"  We must allow ourselves to be filled with faith in God knowing, trusting and believing that there is more to life than we see.