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, November 27, 2016

Advent week 1

Advent Devotional

Use this this week to celebrate Advent and the upcoming Birth of Christ. Below is a devotional and at the beginning is the Advent Candle lighting words for this week.

Hope
Prepare to glorify the Lord
Blessed are those whose hope is in the Lord’s
John the Baptist said “anyone who has 2 shirts should share with one who has one.”
In generosity we glorify God’s name
God’s glory will soon be known
Reveal to us, O Lord, the world that knows you
Good news of Hope waits
We are prepared for all to feel God’s hope


Prelude:
Joshua 24: 15.   But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  

Thoughts:  
With the secularism of the Christmas season into a “holiday” season let us pledge ourselves to the service of the Lord.  Let us step back from the secular and find the sacred of these moments and the Christmas season.  Let us devote ourselves to the Christ child that is to be born.  I recently read on Facebook that there are 29 Holidays celebrated during the “Christmas season” and that is why we say “happy holidays” and not “Merry Christmas.”  That might be fine and I always advocate for respecting others but as we await Christ’s birth we are asked to make space for Christ in our life.  We are meant to examine the space we leave in our lives for God and more importantly for the love that God has for us through the gift of Christ and our salvation.  Soon, our Savior is born. Soon we will be reminded of the God that humbly walked amongst us.  Soon, we celebrate this joyous moment when God’s love for the world came to life.  Being a Christian is not always easy.  Setting ourselves outside the secular world and acknowledge our Lord and Savior are an important part of our Salvation.  We are called to not just live ordinary lives but as followers of Christ wherever that leads.  Let us this Advent season be reminded that, as Joshua did in our passage above, we must declare who are Lord is.  We must not get lost in the secular world to the point that the birth of Christ is nothing more than a holiday we celebrate.  For this is a gift beyond our imagine, beyond our understandings.  This is the greatest gift of our Creator’s love - the Christ child!

First Sunday in Advent:
Isaiah 2: 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord
Where do you draw the line between the Holy and the secular?  What does it mean to walk in the light of the Lord??  Today open yourself up to the light around you, God’s light.  Let God’s light shine in places you usually keep dark; perhaps work, school, a restaurant, your car - find God in someplace new and let the light of God shine.  Walk in the light of God means to allow God’s light to shine all around you, in you and through you.  It means that God is a part of all that you do.  Open yourself up to let this happen.


Day 2: Genesis 8:10-11
Genesis 8:10-11 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.
What a relief that olive branch was.  It didn’t mean it was over, it would still be several months before they got out of that ark; but the end was in sight.  Relief was on its way, it was coming.  God sends us olive leaves throughout our life; signs that all will be well.  Jesus is just that, humbly arriving as a baby.  Jesus is a sign and reminder that often we must wait for great things but that they do come - in their own way and in their own time.  That great things come to those who wait.  This advent we wait once more, for the birth of our savior.  What is it in your life that you await relief from?  Has God already sent you a olive leaf? Then rejoice.  

Day 3: Genesis 9: 13
Genesis 9: 13  I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
The best part about a rainbow is that it has perfect timing.  Rainbows only show up when the right amount of rain and sun are together; too much sunlight and it gone or too much rain clouds and no rainbow.  They are sign of hope after the rain.  This holiday, recall a moment that a rainbow, a sign of hope, appeared.  Perhaps a time when you knew all would be well thanks to a sign from God.  Christmas season is a time for us to not only celebrate the hope that comes through our faith but to share that hope with others.  It is a time for us to spread the love of God and to reminded everyone of the hope that comes with Christ’s birth.  Think about how you can bring a rainbow moment to someone else this season.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or big, sometimes hope comes in the smallest packages.  

Day 4: Isaiah 54: 10
Isaiah 54:10 10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
There are moments when we think “why God why?”  Especially as we enter Advent which is in December we are reminded of tragic national events like D-day or Sandy Creek.  We are also reminded of our own personal lost that has happened throughout our lifetime during this season of hope.  Bad things happen to good people.  Bad things happen in joyus moments and at happy times.  Bad things happen.  Too often when bad things we question God.  Too often when bad things happen our faith wavers.  Yet it is when bad things happen we must turn to God.  It is in turning to our faith that compassion is found.  The answers aren’t always there.  The bad things have still happened.  Yet compassion and love can be felt.  God’s hope can be a light in the darkness and a reminder that our mountains can be shaken but not God’s love for us.  This season of wait we are reminded that although we might wait for knowledge and answers for things we just don’t understand we can accept God’s compassion and love for us.  For God so loved the world that our God sent Jesus to humbly walk among us.  


Day 5: Isaiah 4: 5-6
Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glorya will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain

God is our refuge.  What a wonderful thought.  That God will create a hiding place for us and offer us protection.  Yet, we often take it upon ourselves to do everything for us don’t we?   We worry about money; we worry about all the things in life that create instability and yet we are called throughout our Bible to trust in God’s protection.  As we anticipate this Advent, we are reminded that God’s gift didn’t come as everyone expected the Messiah to but the reward was even better than anyone imagined.  We might not know what is going to happen when we trust God and things might not turn out as we planned but we are promised that for those who trust, refuge can be found.  This Advent season, trust and through that trust open yourself up to the miracles that await.


Day 6:     Isaiah 30: 26  The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.

The Light of God is all around us.  The light of Christ shines in and through our lives every day.  During Advent and the time leading up to Christmas there are movies, musicals, newspaper articles, personal stories all around us of different “Christmas miracles.”  Of God’s light shining in the world.  But Christmas is not the only time Jesus appears.  But during Christmas it feels 7x brighter for everyone - every day Christians to not-so-much believers - is in the Spirit.  Let us this holiday help that light shine brighter.  Give a little more.  Find the hope that lives within your life and share your story of hope with someone.  Allow the light of this holiday to fill you up, don’t be a Scrooge.  

Day 7:  Isaiah 40: 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.


God is our shepherd.  During the Advent season of hope there can be darkness.  We remember the holidays of “old.” We remember the “good old days”  and all the people who are no longer here to celebrate.  Our families have changed, children have aged and nothing is like how it used to be.  Except God.  God has always been our Shepherd.  From the Old to the New Testaments, God is our Shepherd.  God keeps us, tends to us and in this passage we hear God carries us close to the Holy’s heart.  How powerful to know that.  Nothing in our life is the same year to year and even day to day; one happening can change that all.  But God doesn’t change.  Our relationship with God is always here.  Think about the stability that provides you and the comfort in knowing that you are in the Holy’s heart!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thankful

In the same spirit as every other day we woke up on Thanksgiving Morning to children full of energy.  They always have energy, it could be a boring old school day and they would still bound down the hall for our bedroom with the same enthusiastic leaps as they did on Thanksgiving morning.  They are still young, they have only lived through a few holiday seasons and they remember less.  They are more excited that Thanksgiving means they are that much closer to Christmas, the big holiday they know is great.

Yesterday was a day filled with family activities, from the mundane of cleaning up a playroom to the exciting of making wands.  It was filled with adventure and new tastes.  It was filled with family - near and far!  It was filled with creativity.  And at the very end of the day it was filled with the reminders of what it means to be parents, vomit in beds and children screaming in the night. 

At one point yesterday we thought back to our Thanksgiving of past.  Before children.  When waking up early meant 9am not 5:30am.  When we filled our tiny house with 20+ adults who have in time become our family.  We remembered wacky cakes and coffee, we remembered goose dinners with artichoke heart casserole.  We remembered eating in peace.  And quickly I thought, how time has flown.  How even though our children are young one day we will have that back; one day we will be empty nesters hopeful for a Thanksgiving with our children.  Life goes by so fast.  Children grow, we grow too.  Life is precious. 

When we celebrate thanksgiving it is not a remembrance of "the first thanksgiving," we don't glorify that with our children.   Instead I have always focused on the need to spend some time remembering to be thankful.  It is pretty easy to pray to God when things are going bad.  It is pretty easy to name all the "wrongs" in our life.  Yet to name the good is so good for you.  Studies have found that people who make lists of what they are thankful for are more thankful people.  Studies have found this helps!  And it does.  Even when life is crazy and families are prefect.  Even when Thanksgiving dinner isn't what you thought it should be.  Taking time to be with your family and remembering how quickly Thanksgiving came back around is important. Naming the wonderful things in your life and giving thanks to God for all the good is important.  Embracing your beautiful, chaotic, messy and challenging life is always important. 

I hope your thanksgiving was wonderful!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Christ Our King

Today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday in our church.  We are reminded of the trumpet walk of Christ on what we call Psalm Sunday.  We are reminded of the Joshua passage in which "as for me and my household, we wills serve the Lord."  We are reminded that no matter what happens in the Earthly politics, Christ is our KING.

Christ was not the King everyone was expecting.  Christ was not the Earthly messiah who came to free the Israel people from the Romans.  Christ was not the person who lead his followers into battle to over power the Romans and take back their Israel.  Christ was not the king that gave the power back to the little people or out of the hands of those the Hebrews thought were evil.  Christ was a different King.  Christ was a King who assured in a new era.  One in which a relationship with God forged out of love was possible.  Christ did not stop all the injustices that were happening and in fact for those who followed Christ, injustice pursued.

The hope that we find then, is not through Earthly people or leaders.  The hope we find is through Christ.  The hope we search for and need is through our faith.  We cannot let ourselves forget that.  We cannot forget that Christ reign is in the Kingdom to come.  But we also cannot forget that it is our duty and our role as Christians to bring that Kingdom to all we meet.  To be the ambassador of that Kingdom to Earth.  To show through love, grace, forgiveness, joy and hope what the Kingdom has to offer.  What having Christ as your KING brings to your life.  We are called to show that Kingdom to all we meet.  We are asked to do so.  We are reminded that being a Christian is not always easy!

To say that we live in a Christian Nation is a lie or a to be living in a wrapped reality.  When most people do not attend a church, most people do not pray on a regular basis; when most people do not believe or consider themselves to be "nones" we must wake up to the fact that we don't live in a Christian Nation.  When we elect leaders not out of moral upstanding but out of who is "less bad;" we don't live in a Christian Nation.  When we allow people to discuss "others" at all, we do not live in a Christian Nation.  We live in the United States of America.  We live in a country that although was founded by people who were faithful; by allowing for religious freedoms they set into motion the very real reality that we are not a Christian Nation.

And that is good.  Because they only Christian Nation should really be the one Christ reigns.  The Kingdom of Christ.  Should we strive to live that out in our daily lives - of course!  Should we encourage others to - of course!  We should be reminded that as Christians our duty is to Christ first and then to our nation.  Being a Christian isn't easy.  Jesus never told his disciples - come follow me those who are lazy and want a free ride - NO!  Jesus' disciples knew there would be moments they were challenged; moments they would have to dust off their boots; moments in which they would cry for humanity; but they also knew that there would be moments for grace and moments of true miracles.

As we begin Advent Season, a time in which we await the birth of our King.  We wait in anticipation, for Advent is a time for anticipation.  We also wait in anticipation for the beginning of a new political season.  We wait excited to see the birth of Christ and we wait worried what is to come in our nation.  In this season of wait, let us take some time to breath.  Let us take some time to prepare ourselves, our spirits and our souls.  Let us pledge our selves to our King, Jesus.  Let us allow this season of Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and Light shine down on us.  Let us give ourselves some time to not react to what is to come but instead time to respond.  Respond to the world in hope.  Respond in peace.  Respond in joy.  Respond in love.  Respond in the light brought to us by our true King Christ.  

Friday, November 11, 2016

No Words

As I grieve this week not just for an election outcome; not just for a future I am not sure about; but for the lost of dear family friend.  I am not truly able to put into words how I feel.  I am still trying to take it in and process.  I think we get to grieve this election and grieve the possibilities.   This election has open our eyes up to the work that needs to still be done in our country and the real issues that perhaps we have been suppressing for a while.   Whenever things change quickly there are those who feel “left behind.”  Let us in the last days of Obama, grieve, let us remember what it means to be united, let us love harder then we have ever loved and let us find ways to respond to this instead of react.    As we all process this let us find comfort in these words:

 Psalm 146
1 Praise the LORD.Praise the LORD, my soul. 2 I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. 5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. 6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. 7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, 8 the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. 9 The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 10 The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD.

Monday, November 7, 2016

God doesn't promise Great Leaders

There is this interesting myth among us humans - that somehow our leaders will all be great.  That some how God's will is that our leaders be great.  We saw this during the second Bush administration; pictures of him praying were circulated as if proof that he was great but he had God on his side.  How na├»ve we are!

When humans wanted a King God warned us.  God said it wasn't a good idea.  God said there would be pain and suffering because of this.  Yes God ordain some of the leaders but God most certainty didn't do so believing that they were all great - that is reserved for the Holy.  Just look at our Bible's historical books (Kings, Samuel, Chronicles) and you will find some great and some not-so-great leadership. In fact there are more bad Kings then there are good ones...so many who ruled for short periods, one only 7 days - many under 20 years!

And here we are on the eve of an election.  We are in a country not of Kings but of elected leaders; we are in a country that by the account of the Biblical history we have faired a lot better with only but a few bad Presidents.  We are in a country that does get to do this again in 4 years. 

As we head to the polls we have to realize that God stepped back from Human leadership when we asked for a King.  That in doing so, sure God still works in those that let the Holy in and have a relationship; but without that God is not part of the process.  That if we vote for someone secular who aligns with the same party we do - that doesn't mean that God has ordained this.  If we vote for someone based on party lines but don't open our eyes to what the Spirit is saying; then we too have left God out of this.  That Israel has had some bad kings who turned away from the Lord; and so too can we have a bad leader who does not want or desire a relationship with God.

No matter what happens on Tuesday Night; when we wake up on Wednesday we cannot proclaim "where is God?"  For we have left God out for a long time and God has never promised humans good leadership, especially when we are letting humans make that choice.


Let us lift up in prayers our concerns for our nation as a whole.  Not that we come out with the best leadership but instead that we come out whole.  That we accept the practices that we have put into place.  That we allow ourselves and others grace in decisions tomorrow.  That we as a people who do believe and are Holy allow God to work in us to calm our presence.  That love overcomes anger and evil.  That every person feels safe to make choices for themselves and when a President-elect is declared that all may accept the will of the nation.  That God's presence can overcome anxieties.  Let us pray that Americans can come together and show each other and the world that we are one nation; who doesn't always agree, but who can unite in democracy. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Day of the Dead

"Mom I want to celebrate the day of the dead!" says my 6 year old at dinner. 
 "really?! How would we go about that?" 
 "Well we would get flowers, cookies and pictures of our loved ones who have died and we could remember them and celebrate them."
"Well, I love this idea, but you none of our relatives have died since you have been alive, who would we celebrate?"
"Well there was that lady at church who recently died, who loved all us kids and well you have a grandma that died and daddy must have had a grandma that died."


And how does one argue with that?  Each year Halloween seems to be getting a bigger and bigger holiday.  Everyone dresses up and even at schools there is participation.  Yet, there are still many Christians who don't participate.  In fact, from Oct 31-November 2 the church often just doesn't know how to respond; or has attempted to over take and recreate the day (All Saint's Day).

In reading some Rabbinic writings about the  Jewish Holiday Purim, I found it very interesting that one (and I wish I could remember who) Rabbi long before Christ said of the Messianic Age that the only holiday that would continue after the Messiah would be the Holiday at Purim.  Some of you reading this may be confused as to how I went from a rant on Halloween all the way to Purim (which is celebrated usually around March) but I assure you this isn't a far stretch.  Purim is the holiday in which the Jewish faith celebrate Esther and how the Queen saved them.  During this holiday they get drunk, eat a feast and get dressed up in disguises.  It is said that traditionally people wore costumes that went along with the story but as time went on it was any sort of disguises.  It was thought to represent the fact that miracles can be hidden, sometimes God can be hidden from.  Also during this day of charity is important and gifts are given freely.  The disguises help those who are in need stay anonymous.  Yet, this Rabbi was wrong; after Christ Purim did not stay on as a holiday of the Christians.  Perhaps because they simply rejected all Jewish holidays; perhaps because it falls during lent; perhaps we will never know.

This brings us back to Halloween.  A thought to be pagan holiday that at least the RC church tried to bring into the church through All Saints Day.  Should then all Christians boycott this holiday?  Should Christians embrace this day?  Should Christians condemn those who celebrate it? 

I think these are questions we all answer for ourselves. For us, I see no harm in dressing up once a year and celebrating this holiday but as we embraced the "day of the Dead" this year.  Celebrating our loved ones I had a realization this Holiday can be Christian.  This Holiday can also be a great way to talk about death and understand the life to come.  This day is a great way to spend some time sharing in the memories of those who don't always get spoken about.  This holiday can and does fit right along with our theology.  

So here is my rabble for the week.  Halloween isn't completely outside the realm of our Christian heritage and the day of the dead is good for all in the healing process of death.  So we might not accept the pagan aspects of the Holiday we we surely can celebrate this days as true reminders of our faith and how God continues to work in our lives, without us always knowing and even when our lives on this earth are done.

Just as those who are not Christians celebrate Christmas with Santa Claus and not a Christ child; we can use just about anything around us to teach our children the principals of Christ and the hopes we have for them in their relationship with the Divine.