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, February 26, 2017

Think Spring

The other morning my middle child came down the stairs crying and asking if it was spring.  He wanted to wear shorts.  He wanted to take a hike, something we do as a family as soon as the weather hits 60.  It made me reflect on our wonderful hikes in the woods.  This is wear we meet God.  Where we as a family talk, learn and see God's beauty in the world around us.  Here is a reflection:

When we walk with God we meet at the foot of the forest.  Alongside God I hike.  At first we follow the blue dots; realizing that is the shorter way we start along the yellow path, just to see where it goes.  We stopped and looked at all the holes; perhaps we'd find a creation.  Looking up at the tall trees I stood in awe of God's wonder until the laughter brought be back.  Children shrieking at the sight of a chipmunk; a chipmunk seeking safety from the noise runs away; the dog runs after the chipmunk; the leash was dropped and the chase begins! What fun was had off the path. Each child found a gift: a stick, a rock, an acorn.  Something precious to them, blessed by God's hand during creation. Tangible memories to take home of this sacred walk.  Breaking through the forest, a beautiful sight; a waterfall cascading into a stream. Some splashing and sprinkling of water abounds as laughter echos off the rocks, God's smile says it all.  A sigh, as feet turn back; a breath of thanksgiving of God's creation.  Skipping, hopping, running every step must be full; life is fuller in God's presence.  The forest which loomed with unknown is now conquered with God by our side.  The secret falls was found.  Stop for snacks and drinks re-energizes us for our walk back. As we depart, we hug God for all the fun.  With thankful hearts we lave behind the forest; refreshed and renewed and full of God's love.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Locks of Hair

As I walked into the door I was surrounded by love, children and dog love that is!  I was home from a long day of work and the relief from the cares of the outside world usually just fade away as hugs and dog paws embrace me.  Some how my husband manages to sneak his way through the waist level crowd and greet me as well.  This day was no different until I looked, really looked at my daughter.  She had already turned around and in her wonderfully bouncy foot steps she walked away.  Yet something was different - her hair!  My heart sank to my gut as I realized she had cut her own hair.  I looked at my phone and saw that the teacher had sent email, which I hadn't thought about reading until that moment.  Sure enough, she cut her hair in school. 
My family comes from a line of awful hair.  We don't have thick locks, we don't have curls in our locks we have very fine hair.  I am fortunate that my fine hair is the best of the families.  My hair grows and is strong.  My daughters hair is not.  It is fine, it easily breaks and it looks bad.  We have trimmed it; we have tried to style it and we have had no luck.  But what breaks my heart is that she did it because she "hates" her hair.  She "hates" her hair.  She wants long hair so badly that I have crocheted her hair wigs.  She wants long hair so badly that she cries. 

We have always tried to teach our kids that it doesn't matter what you look like and that your style can be whatever you like.  We have tried to have conversations about diversity and we have a lot of books that we read about diversity; but she longs for different hair, better hair, longer hair.  When we went to get her haircut to something that didn't look like a kid took scissors to their own hair we were met with support.  The kind hairdresser who encouraged her looks and her "sassy" cut;  the stranger in the grocery store that didn't know she just got her haircut but came up to her and said "your haircut is so cute, I love it!"  (a God moment for sure); the family who have offered love and of course those at school who have said good things have all supported her.  Yet, she feels bad.

So we sat together at the salon getting short hair cuts together - me getting 10 inches cut off to donate! As the hair went flying and the locks of hair fell to the floor we share in this experience that changed who we are.  We are defined as women in this society by our looks.  Even when we don't want to be.  Even we try to break the mold.  We are defined by our looks and a part of that is our hair.

It seems unfair that along the way she got this message that hair has to be long and thick and yet my girl who seems like a fashionista has picked this up.  We are all apart of God's creation - hair or no hair.  All creatures great and small, all people black and while, all things seen and unseen,  God made us all.  How important to instill God's love for us to our children.  That no matter who we are or how we look God loves us.  No matter what - unconditional love is ours!

Our God loves us - every hair on our head and even those that end up on the floor.  We should be able to find God's love.  As I sit here several weeks after that moment I realized her hair was doomed to a pixie cut I hope that we (my daughter and I) have grown.  Grown in our understanding of God's love but also grown in our giving of God's love.  As we got our hair styled, she exclaimed: "Thanks Mom, I love you."  She knew I was making a sacrifice for her, cutting of over 10 inches of hair. It was worth it.

I wish we lived in a society in which judgments were not made; for we are reminded throughout the bible that we are not to judge.  I wish we lived in a world in which woman's hair was not a part of their identity and my daughter was not consumed with "hate" for hers that does not conform to the norm.  I wish we lived in a time when difference and diversity was celebrated instead of feared. I wish that for my daughter she could live in a world in which God's love was truly felt each and every day.  Where each person was like that women in the grocery store - doing God's work in the world. 

But we don't.  So as the locks of hair fell I continued to take my vow to God that I will do all I can to make sure those around me feel and know God's love.  That all creatures, all peoples, know that they are wonderful just the way they are.  I will continue to spread the Word and Love of God and hope that one day she will accept herself for the amazing, talented, creative, compassionate,  surprising, bouncy person she is!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

An Invitation for a Relationship

Isaiah 55: 1Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
I just love this invitation.  Throughout our Bible we are invited – those who are hungry, thirsty, those without are invited to come and be fulfilled.  Jesus proclaims “Blessed are the poor” and he feeds the multitudes!  Fulfillment is such an important part of our Biblical – our Christian story.  YHWH fulfills the covenants that he has with his people – during the famine, Joseph is able to provide food for his brothers / father and later God brings his people out of Egypt and provides them manna to eat, perhaps it gets redundant but at least it is food.  YHWH fulfills the covenant that he made by providing a land, providing judges and later kings – providing prophets and later Jesus, all in order to keep a promise with us.  And although YHWH asks for faith, for trust and obedience – the stakes aren’t really that high.  You see, God doesn’t require us to bring anything but ourselves – God doesn’t care what we “have” but instead who we are.  For living our life for the Divine, doesn’t take earthly materials. And yet, although the Holy is inviting us into a relationship – a relationship in which we need to bring nothing…we still have such a hard time listening don’t we?  We humans have one BIG flaw and that is we often fail to believe in good things and thus sabotage things when they are good.  Instead of believing people at face value or accepting people for what they give – we are constantly second guessing and over analyzing.  
I remember when I finally understood what the phrase “there is no such thing as a free lunch” meant.  I was in a 9th grade economics class and all of a sudden as the teacher was trying to teach us this, I realized just how good it is to be na├»ve some times.  With this outlook – life is one big suspicion and Isaiah emphasis this when he proclaims:  
2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
Instead of accepting the Divine relationship for what it is, we are pushing God away for the earthy. We are not eating what is good or delighting ourselves in the rich food – but instead are accepting imitation and eating processed foods that don’t satisfy.  We are allowing the reputation of God to be slandered by those proclaiming to know better than Jesus’ himself God’s will for the world.  We are allowing the cares of the world to consume us and bring doubt to our relationship with God and our Christian identity.  We are  letting our churches become places of politics and our hearts the home of skeptics – all in order to fulfill the void that a true and amazing relationship with YHWH would fill.  A God who is asking us to:  
3Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
How powerful of a call from God!  Incline your ear – the Divine King is demanding that we listen – listen so that we may truly live!  Not live this life that we are so accustomed to that allows us to live in the secular world, filling our bodies with junk but instead a life that is full – a life that fulfills God’s will and in which God’s glory can be seen through us.  A life in which we witness to the people our Great Prince of Peace as our lives become more fulfilled through the covenant that the Holy made with us.  All we need do is:
6Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;
But how do we go about seeking the Lord?  It seems like such a daunting task to reach out and hold a conversation with God – it seems impossible.  So much so that those with little faith and even those with great faith question the truth.  How do we approach a God who seems so far away and yet proclaims that anyone and everyone – all those who thirst or who are hungry can come and be fulfilled?  This is done through a relationship – prayer, worship, study, listening but most importantly through relationship building.  You cannot call upon a friend if you don’t have their phone number – you cannot call upon YHWH if you do not know the Divine presence.  And just like a blind first date, relationship building takes time and effort.  
I have a sort of confession / story for you.  One of our first weeks on campus of seminary, we went to a craft fair with a new seminary friend’s wife.  It was an hour away and so we were in the car with her for a total of 2 hours and I think that the hour home was probably one of Russ’ worse hours of his life.  You see, me and this wife got into a huge debate about the proper place for a women in church and the proper role of a minister’s wife…well after that car ride I figured the relationship with that fellow seminarian and most defiantly his wife was through.  That was truly a rough beginning.  And yet, after several years of schooling and now several ministries later we are all friends…good friends.  Our relationship after that day took some time, we had to learn to trust one another, we had to learn to be able to communicate without debating and most importantly we had to learn to listen – truly listen to what the other was saying.  But slowly and surely it happened.  
It is not easy to just come to God – empty handed and willing to trust.  The world has taught us that that isn’t always a sure thing.  It isn’t easy to come to YHWH believing in a covenant that was placed thousands of years ago.  It isn’t easy entering the divine presence and actually listening long enough to know God’s will.  And it surely isn’t easy following it! And yet, God is calling us to seek the Divine Presence and promising that when we do we shall find him. And later to Isaiah the Lord says:

8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
When we go looking for God we shall find him!  And we are promised that we can come however we are – without anything or with everything for our Lord does not concern himself with the earthy.  We are reminded at the end of this passage that the dwelling place of God is not here on earth and the rules that we know may not be the rules in which God is confined.  And yet, we box God in and in doing so we hurt our relationship with the Redeemer.  We confine God to the things we know, blocking the very voice of Salvation.
What kind of relationship do we have and are we accepting of the relationship that the Holy is so offering us.  For the Divine is offering us a relationship full of grace – a relationship in which we are fulfilled and in which we are living a full life for the one true Creator.  
We are being invited to come as we are – for fulfillment.  But before we can go there, before we can truly incline our ear and truly HEAR God’s words, before we can truly seek our Lord and find the Holy, before we can accept that God’s rules aren’t necessary our rules and therefore all things are possible – we must first break away from the earthy that hold us back.  We must identify the temptations that hold us into our wilderness.  We must stop filling ourselves with foods, gossip, political hate or worse to fill the spiritual void that we should seek our Creator to fill.  
Paul reminds us that:
12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
God will provide a way so that we may be able to endure.  But in order to do so, in order to follow the way be fulfilled you must first be willing to come to YHWH and enter into a full relationship – one that isn’t hinder by the earthly but instead empowered by the things which we do not see and cannot understand.  So take a leap out of our comfort zone – releasing the rules we cling to and accepting the covenant God has for us.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

What the Church should Be

Read John 4: 1-26 The Woman at the Well
This passage leaves many questions.  I was confused by the overall question as to why was Jesus alone at a well in the middle of the day talking to a women, a Samaritan women, a sinful Samaritan women?  Why was this sinful Samaritan women at the well in the middle of the day?  Where and why did the disciples go? Why does John even mention this encounter?  
The overarching question was: What is the purpose of this passage? It didn’t seem to fit and further it is so theologically packed that one has to wonder if all these conversations truly happened in the same span of time.  So if the purpose of this passage isn’t truly known in it’s context of the New Testament, John to be more precise then how can we relate this incredibly jam packed message into today’s terms…what then is this passages relevance to us?  
Before we get into that, let us first begin to unpack and examine this passage.  Let us begin to answer some of the very big questions that haunt us when we read this passage.  The first is who are the Samaritan’s and why do the Jews and Samaritan’s have such a dislike.  Well first Samaria is the land between Judah and Galilee and so therefore Jesus is passing through on his way to Galilee - they are using the most direct route.  Now the Samaritan’s didn’t hold the same animosity for the Jews as the Jews held for them.  You see the Jews and Samaritans worshiped the same God – the God of Abraham.  In fact, the Samaritans descended from tribes of Israel who after being displaced settled and intermarried with some local Canaanites.  And here lies the problem, they were not truly ethnically Hebrews.  So, Samaritan’s lived by the laws of Moses and kept Kosher.  The Samaritan’s were seen by the Jews as unclean.  So usually Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans.  Yet, here not only is Jesus talking with a Samaritan women he later stays in the city for a while and teachings others.  His disciples, perhaps learning their lesson from before, don’t even question his motives in speaking to this women nor these people.  And perhaps that is striking in itself.  Although the Samaritan’s kept kosher and their food would have been Ok for the Jews to eat, many scholars still believe that it was unusual that Jews of this time would buy food in Samaria.  But then again, there needed to be an explanation for Jesus to be alone and buying food seems like a plausible thing.  Although not all early scrolls include this clause; wherever the disciples are, Jesus is alone at the well when the woman arrives.  Usually water was collected at the beginning of the day, so it is a bit odd that at the hottest time of the day, this women would be conducting this labor intense job.  Yet, here she is, meeting Jesus and receiving a lesson.  And in her conversation with Jesus we realize that she isn’t just any women – or any Samaritan woman for that matter – but she is a sinful Samaritan woman.  
She isn’t stupid for she has heard the talk about the messiah – she has heard about the prophecy of the Christ that is to come.  And during Jesus’ time, he wasn’t the only messiah.  There were plenty of people claiming to be the messiah – there were plenty of teachers out there with new messages.  And yet time and time again, Jesus proved through word and action to be the true Christ.  And we see this in this passage, for not only does she believe but those in her town come to believe.  But why is this important?  Why is it even mentioned?
What is the purpose of this story?  Why should this insignificant women – who doesn’t even have a name – matter?  For she was a sinful, Samaritan – one who by ethnicity was outcast from the Hebrew faith and by her own lifestyle most probably out, caste from her own village.  Perhaps that is why she was there on that afternoon fetching water in the heat of the day instead of the morning.  Perhaps she was trying to avoid those who judge her – those who don’t accept her.  
What is the purpose of this story? Why would Jesus be talking to such a person at a well? And why would it matter so much to the Gospel writer John?  John was the last of the Gospel writers to be writing.  He didn’t have the same stumbling blocks in the way of his Gospel and thus his Gospel reads very differently than the other three.  First, John didn’t have to convenience his readers Jesus was in fact the messiah – this was an already known and believed fact.  In fact, John had another problem and that was giving Christ humanity.  For during his writing, churches had already been established and people were waiting for the end times that were suppose to proceed the messiah to arrive and since they hadn’t they were beginning to add structure to their churches and their theology.  So here, John in one big scoop is giving over a very important lesson.  In the Old Testament many met soon-to-be wives at wells.  Is this important? For the readers of the Gospels would have been familiar with the Old Testament, maybe even more so then we are today – so were they suppose to be drawing some type of connection here – I think yes.  
John is trying to convey to his readers what the Church – also considered the bride of Christ – looks like.  He is adding some theological structure to the physical structures that are beginning to pop up.  And what than does John see as characteristics of the Church?
Let us go back to the women at the well…to the un-named, sinful, Samaritan woman who because of her out-cast status was doing her labor intense work in the middle of the day.  And what did Jesus do?  He met her where she was at and taught her.  He did not judge harshly but with love.  And that it what Church is all about –
Church should be the one place where you can come – completely and without hesitation to be yourselves.  Church is where we meet each other – right where we are at and journey along side each other.  We don’t condemn or judge each other.  Church is a place where all should be welcomed to listen and learn about Jesus.  Church is a place where every one no matter your status outside these walls should feel safe and comfortable.  Church then is the sacred ground in which all are welcomed.  And we – like this woman – can come here full of sin, guilt, regret and shame to hear God’s word, to praise God’s name and to feel the power of God’s grace in our lives.  We like this woman can come humbly and vulnerable to this well and leave refreshed and nourished.  
The Church's purpose then is to meet people, where they are at – allowing room for each person to be themselves; and through worship and education begin to accept God’s grace for yourselves.  A place where you can learn to follow Christ and allow yourself to be filled and nourished spiritually so that you can like the woman at the well leave here excited to share your belief to others, spreading God’s amazing message and encouraging others to join us in this wondrous space where all are welcome – whoever you are, wherever you are at, you are welcomed to worship in God’s church.  And we hope that through worship, song and prayer each and every person feels the amazing life that God has given to them and is empowered, nourished and excited to go out into the world.  Let us together strive to be a place that leaves space for each person to be their own, where judgment is left outside the doors and where each person humbly and vulnerable can be spiritual refreshed and nourished.  Let us be the well of the living Christ and open ourselves up to the weary meeting them where they are at to teach and learn about Christ, spreading God’s message of grace and building this church with excitement.