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.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

Twelve Days of Christmas – Devotional
Day 1 – Christmas Luke 2: 7
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Christ was born! Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday Jesus! Today is a day we celebrate and rejoice!  Yet as we look at our pristine and pretty nativity scenes we must remember that Jesus’ real birth wasn’t so perfect.  It certainly wasn’t the clean hospital sterile births of day.  The fact that it wasn’t perfect needs to be celebrated and embraced. Christmas is often a hard day, as we reflect on what we miss or don’t have but Christ didn’t come in a perfect way or to a perfect place.  Even in this passage, we are reminded that there was no place for him inside and so he was outside with the animals.  Such an important part of our theology: God came not to save the righteous but the sinners.  God did not send Jesus to walk among us as a perfect human in perfect circumstances but instead Jesus was surrounded by the imperfection of humanity.  He came into this imperfect world to offer grace.  Let us not worry if today is perfect; let us not fret about the Christmas of past that we miss or even those we no longer get to celebrate this day with.  Let us not seek the “perfect Christmas morning” with presents, families and joy.  Let us instead embrace our imperfect Christmas, full of longing or loneliness or stress; let us embrace the Holy Gift born out of great love to offer salvation to the imperfect.   Rejoice that Jesus was born; Salvation to all who are imperfect!

Day 2 – Titus 3: 4-5
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

Salvation is offered to us; not for the works we have done but from the love and mercy of God.  Such powerful words for us and yet sometimes very daunting words.  It is hard to imagine within humanity an example of someone who despite all the times we have done them wrong, still offers us salvation; yet we must remember that God is beyond humanity.  Genesis only says we are made in “God’s image;” we are only a part of God’s grandeur creation and we must remember these things – God is bigger then us.  Our God is a God of forgiveness and salvation.  This doesn’t mean that in God’s name we don’t spread good into the world; this does mean though that we don’t have to be perfect.  That our lives can be filled with every day humanness and even when we get too angry, too greedy or whatever too lead us to sin, Jesus still loves us – God loves us! God in mercy sent Jesus to save us.  Today we rejoice that the baby in the manger was not just any baby but instead is God manifested for our Salvation!

Day 3 – Revelation 21: 3
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;

Christmas for many ends on Christmas day but traditional Christmas has been celebrated for 12 days beginning on Christmas and moving through Epiphany.  Each day was a day of feast and celebration that Jesus was born and God out of love for humanity forged a new relationship with us, one that was built through Jesus’ own humanity.   Thus, God is among us mortals!  Jesus walked with us and now through the Holy Spirit, Jesus gift to us, God remains among us.  During Christmas time we spend a lot of time talking about the “Christmas Spirit” and watching  
movies about the magic of Christmas.  This is a great reminder of the power of the Holy Spirit and yet we often let this spirit die the rest of the year.  Our passage doesn’t just say that God walks among mortals sometimes but instead it states that “the home of God is among mortals” – the HOME.  Through our acceptance of the Holy Spirit in us we also become the “home” of God.  As you continue this journey to epiphany think up ways that you can keep God’s spirit in the spotlight.

Day 4 – John 1: 14
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

Jesus lived among us and his glory was not only witnessed but participated in, from Mary and Joseph, to shepherds, to Herod, to wise travelers, to disciples, to soldiers, to religious leaders and Roman officials; but it doesn’t end there.  Jesus story doesn’t end with his death on the cross, his walk as flesh might, but his glory – grace and truth – remain and continue to be a witnessed and participated in.  We celebrate Christmas each year and are reminded of the birth of the infant Jesus and all the wonder and awe that comes with it.  We are reminded of the glory of God that so loved the world.  As seasons change and we get older, God’s glory becomes more important.  God’s grace that fill us with strength to get out of bed and courage to move through frustration leads us to the truth that the Kingdom awaits us.  Some days the wait seems like too long and some days you might wish lasted longer but God’s glory full of grace and truth is also full of God’s timing.  The Word did not become flesh at creation but instead at the right time.  A time that to many seems arbitrary and yet to God was perfect.  The glory of God was not known at the beginning but instead was offered to the world, as an infant, in God’s time.  Let the glory of God’s grace and truth fill us today with whatever it is we need to keep living into the amazing grace of God.

Day 5 – Ecclesiastes 3: 1
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

A powerful reminder to us that God is in control.  Everything has a season the passage continues with a litany of times: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to dance, ect… This reminds us, beautifully, of not only the rhythm of life but also points out that we are not the ones in control.  Yet as the seasons change and our bodies age, control is what we fight for.  We fight to control our bodies, as they decline; we fight help, as we strive to prove something; we fight God as we don’t want to give up control of everything.  Yet allowing yourself to live fully into this season of your life is not the same as giving up.  Accepting some help is not giving up.  Allowing God’s grace to work through other people to uplift and support your life, is not giving up it is living into this season.  This is the season in which we rejoice in the birth of Christ.  A baby born under imperfect circumstances into an imperfect world and yet was born in God’s perfect time.  Jesus’ beginning is a glimpse of what his ministry will be like and what his glory will come to mean. So today, let God be in control, if that means during this season you accept more help – remember the seasons past of which you offered help.  Let this be a season that instead of mourning you allow yourself to dance in joy of the blessings around you.  Embrace this season and live it to its fullness knowing and being assured that this season will past and you will one-day dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

Day 6 – Psalm 89: 2
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

These words hear are speaking not about us but about God.  The psalmist is saying that God’s steadfast love is established forever and God’s faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. This are reassuring words for sure.  That word ‘forever’ in Hebrew really gives us this sense of continuing indefinitely.  That this everlasting love knows no stops.  Let’s let that sink in, deep into our souls, God’s everlasting, forever, love knows no stops; God’s love is continual.  What a blessing!  What a thought!  As we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, we celebrate God’s love manifested in Christ.  Jesus could have come in any way, God humbly walking among us could have just appeared one day; yet, instead God with us was humbly born as an infant.  Not just any infant, but an infant son of an unwed woman and a carpenter who were willing to trust God.  God’s steadfast love deserves from us this type of response; a response of faithfulness.  A response of “here I am Lord.”  Think this day about what this infant baby means for you and your journey with God.  God’s love has been delivered to the world and it is now our turn to respond.  Why does it matter that Jesus is born?

Day 7 -Luke 2: 14
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

This is what the angles proclaim to the shepherds.  What an interesting way to proclaim the birth of the World’s savior; not to those studying God, not to those who are looking for a savior, but those tending sheep in the middle of the night.  The awe of the angles over took these shepherds and when they left they began searching for this infant savior.  I wonder if they were surprised to see the lowly Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  How powerful it must have been for them to see that God came not as a rich person who has everything but as one of them. Glory to God in the highest of heaven, surely must have been their song to know that God not only so loved each of them but that God with us was going to experience their life, a hard life.  In our moments of the everyday mundane we must be willing to keep our eyes open and our hearts ready for God’s glory to be revealed.  The night for the shepherds began like any other and yet ended like no other.

Day 8 – Isaiah 62: 12
They shall be called, "The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord"; and you shall be called, "Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken."

God has not forgotten nor forsaken us.  God has not forgotten nor forsaken you.  This is a message we need to hear today; as our world becomes wider, our churches become smaller we need this message.  As the angles appeared to shepherds to proclaim the good news not to the rich but to God’s people whom felt most disenfranchised; so too do we need to hear the words of Isaiah.  God is still with us, Christ Emmanuel is still among us; we must just listen.  We need to open ourselves, not to the emptiness that this Christmas season often leaves us with, but to the fullness of the Spirit of God’s Holy Presence in our lives.  Christmas can be a season of loneliness, a time for us to reflect and realize all that we have lost as we age.  It can be a time of isolation as we struggle for independence or let physical limitations get in the way of full celebration.  It can be a time in which we feel forgotten and forsaken to suffer and yet
God called us “Holy People.”  Through Christ’s birth we have been offered more then salvation and grace we have been offered a relationship; a relationship that names us Holy, a relationship in which we know that we are not forgotten but that we are invited to live in the Kingdom of God.

Day 9 – Psalm 72: 12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

Actual scientific studies have proven that pray works.  Those who pray or allow God in their lives not only survive at higher rates illness but they recover faster and have less pain.  Wow! The power of God always leaves me in awe.  We are reminded that when we allow God in, our lives are changed.  Jesus came into the world, but we must welcome Christ into our lives.  We journey from Christmas to Epiphany, the time the magi traveled to find Christ and welcome him.   They put their trust in the light of the star and found a child that would offer salvation to all.  A child who would one day be a King to the sufferings.  Let God in and allow yourself to be delivered.

Day 10 – Isaiah 60: 1-2
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  For darkness shall cover the Earth and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and his glory will appear over you.

The light of a star may have brought the magi to the house of Mary and Joseph but Jesus brought the light into the world.  Jesus opened blind eyes and allowed all those living in darkness to see that light could come in.  Jesus is the light of the world and our life.  But his light is more then just knowledge but it is also God’s glory!  Think about how bright God’s light shines in your life. Do you let it shine or hide it away?  Are you a person of think darkness or of great glory?  No matter where we are in our faith journey there is room for us to allow God’s light to shine in our lives and act as agents of glory.

Day 11 – Psalm 97: 11
Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.

Let us rejoice now in the light that brings glory to our days and joy to our hearts especially this Christmas season.  Many of our songs are about the “joy” of Christmas; yet for many our Christmases are stressful or full of longing that we don’t let joy in to fill our hearts. But this is a season of joy.  A season of remembering not only the birth of Christ but the promise in the kingdom of heaven.  For that is where our joy is found.  Light dawns on the righteous and joy fills the right in heat.  Both of these words here (right and righteous) aren’t speaking of the sinless but instead the right with God; those who have a relationship with God.  That’s means all of us, not just the perfect can have the joy of God.  Jesus didn’t come to save the perfect but to offer salvation to the world; a world of sinners.  Today let the joy of knowing that God’s grace extends to us all and God’s salvation and forgiveness will bring joy to our hearts.  

Day 12 – Matthew 2: 10-11
When they saw the star had stopped they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his other, and they knelt down and paid homage. Then opening their treasure chests they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

One big point of Epiphany, it wasn’t at Jesus’ birth.  The magi arrived when Jesus was a toddler.  They followed the star tat appeared at Jesus’ birth for several years; trusting in all they had learned and been taught before arriving at the house of Jesus.  This journey was long and hard. This journey took many different turns and at the end this journey left them returning by even a longer journey; yet they believed and trusted.  Not only did they trust but the magi are people from the East, they aren’t Hebrews, yet they trusted. They trusted, believed, followed and found!  We take many different paths in our life.  We travel lots of ways and in the end usually don’t end up where we thought we would.  Yet, we trust in that this journey is rewarded in the Kingdom.  Remember that this Epiphany, this last Sunday in the Christmas Season that it isn’t as important how long you took in your journey or even who you were as long as in your life you trusted, glorified God and welcomed Christ into your life.  Trust today that no matter what is to come as your journey on Earth ends, that for those who welcomed the Christ child your journey continues into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Morning

Christmas doesn't come within a void but within a season, the end of Advent.  Outside the church, Christmas music starts in November, but in the church Christmas music doesn't come until Christmas Eve.  Some people come to church on Christmas Eve and Easter only, missing out on the season of Advent.  Yet it is so important.  It is not just the time we prepare ourselves for Christmas morning; but the season in which the church looks within ourselves.  How well have we been keeping up the Spirit of Christ?  How well have we been preparing the way not only for Christ to work within our own lives but in the lives of others?

On the first Sunday of Advent, with the prophets we asked the question: "Is this time?"  Is it time for the Messiah? The prophetic voice we hear is the signs so that we will know that indeed it is time.  For us today, we ask "Is this time for me?"  "Can I make the time for God in my life?"

On the second Sunday of Advent we meet with John the Baptist who is telling off some religious leaders and we are left with "Is this good fruit we bear?"  Do we spread goodness around?  Do we share God's love wherever we go?  Do we truly live into our relationship with God or do we spread anger and hate?  This are the tough questions as we are asked to look into ourselves.  We are asked to not just live into the Christmas spirit once a year but all year around spread the goods of great joy to the world.

On the third Sunday of Advent, still with John, we are left with "Is this him? the one?"  John has sent some of his disciples to scoop Jesus out and see if this is indeed the Messiah.  This is something we must ask ourselves.  Living in a society of multiple faiths, we are left with the ability to choose.  Yet, choice is something interesting for it is a must.  Simply living "open" or "spiritual but not religious" is in a way a choice to reject and yet to accept nothing.  We are called to make a choice; we are called to live into that choice by living into a full relationship with God.  John knows the answer to this question, on the third Sunday John is sending out his own disciples to help them figure it out for themselves.  Once they witness all that Jesus has done we are left with the understanding that they choose to follow.  We are reminded this day, that we must choose.***

On the fourth Sunday in Advent we hear from Joseph and Mary.  We see the struggles to understand and the understand the "messiness" of life.  Yet we also hear the faithfulness of the two young people who because of their strong faith listen to God.  Live into what God is asking of them.  We are left with the question "Is this worth it?" Certainly they answered "yes" or they would not have continued on as Jesus parents.  Today it is worth it for those who believe.  Jesus works within and through our lives to bless us at moments we need it most.  I can personally affirm, it is worth it to have faith!  Don't believe me, look at science:  people with faith recover better.  People with faith are less depressed, people with faith live longer.  People who have faith communities pray for them heal!

On Christmas Eve we hear Luke's words tell the amazing story of Jesus birth.  We hear the angel speak to the shepherd and the choir of angels sings the goriest song.  And we are left pondering "Is this real?"  Pretty sure that angels appeared to more then one shepherd for if only one experienced it, they wouldn't have believed what happened to them was real.  After hearing from the angel they go out and search for this baby, perhaps to test to see if it was for real.  They look and find Jesus, just as it was foretold, lying in a manager.  At that moment they knew this was for real.  Hopefully you too have had a moment in which you knew God was real.  A moment in which you felt the Divine working.  If you haven't had that moment, it will come.  The shepherds heard the angels words and went out looking for the sign; they didn't just sit back down in the field and say "oh well if it is real it will come to us!"  God extends invitations for us to experience the Divine around us daily; but we must be open to accepting that invite.

On Christmas morning, we open presents under the tree and we are surrounded by family.  Jesus doesn't get mentioned much as Santa and Reindeer are the big deals.  But in the quiet of the Naivety the infant Jesus lay in a manager.  The question that gets asked is: Is this for us?  You see Immanuel God with us is more then just a King born in the line of David to rule Israel.  Jesus, God humbly walking among us, line of David, came not to usher in a new Israel for people 2000 years ago, but instead came to usher in a New Kingdom.  A Kingdom not of this world but for this world.  A Kingdom in Heaven not for one group of people at one time but for all people for all time.  Jesus that baby is not just born for Mary and Joseph, for the disciples or Paul but for you and me.  Jesus was born for Salvation to all who believe, who trust and who say "Indeed this is for me!"

God's love for the world abounds around us and in us.  God's love for the world manifested as Christ and offered Salvation to all - of every time and place - of every race and gender.  We are reminded this day that indeed it is the one who has come to save us, who has made us all worthy of salvation and who in the fullness of God's grace offers us all new hope in Kingdom everlasting.

*** by making a choice to accept Jesus as the One, the Messiah you are not thus suggesting that all must do so.  By accepting Jesus we are not rejecting or disrespecting others faiths.  This is simply about your own relationship with God and how you are going to express it.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Unfolds

Watching Christmas unfold through the eyes of children is truly a special sight.  When my oldest was three, we were traveling through New York City.  And there outside one of the train stations we came upon a giant Christmas Tree.  With wide wondrous eyes, she exclaimed “WOW this is a lot of Christmas here!”  She was overwhelmed by the display as it was bigger than anything else she had seen.  Every year since with bright awestruck eyes she points out every decorated Christmas tree she sees.  And that is just one beautiful example of Christmas decorations – there are plenty: from snowmen to Rudolph. From snow globes to stockings; from wreaths to poinsettias; this is the holiday for decorating.  Stores begin putting Christmas decorations up earlier and earlier each year – now as early as September.  But whenever they get taken out and put up the tradition of decorating during this season is contagious.  Some may decorate for Easter and fewer yet will decorate for lent, advent, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and no one ever decorates their home for occasions like Pentecost.  But Christmas is the one Christian holiday we all do.

And so we celebrate the birth of the baby with such color and excitement that it is easy to forget that Jesus’ beginning was anything but.  In fact one might consider his entrance into this world to very dull.  It is pretty specular that from such a humble birth God’s wonder was revealed to be bigger then we all imagined.  That through the simple baby God’s grace was brought into this world.  Mary delivered a baby whose life was bigger than she could imagine – trusting God she pondered all these prophesies in her heart.  And a simple little package, a humble baby wrapped in bands of cloth lying the manger became the greatest gift we come to know on Earth – our Savior Christ! WOW

No wonder we want to spread this message of love, hope, joy and peace through cheer and decoration; through vivid colors and bright presents; through bows and packages bright until our awestruck eyes glimmer with joy exclaiming “Merry Christmas One and All!”

Today, we heard the Good News of Luke – the angels spoke to the awestruck Shepherd who in wonder and amazement thought “wow, that was an angel – could this be real?” And in that moment they searched in order to find, the greatest gift of all, the infant Savior.

But the greatest decorations and the brightest and biggest packages under the tree are triumphed when we remember what is offered to us through our faith and trust in Christ.  You see the Shepherds who were tending their sheep believed and followed the angels instructions and came upon the infant and with awestruck eyes the angels truth was told. 

It would have been pretty incredible to be one of those shepherds to have witness the angel speak and the heavenly host singing praises.  That would have been a sight for sure and surely enough to make one believe…but unfortunately none of us are old enough to have been witness that.  And yet we still believe!  None of us saw the infant Jesus wrapped and lying in a manger and YET we have come to know Christ in our own ways and have come to feel his love and to believe.  One does not have see to believe one has to feel to know.  And we have all felt the love of Christ throughout our lives. 

Sometimes God’s love seems as big and bright and as full as our Christmas decorations.  There are many “big” events in our life in which we are sure that God grace is filling our hearts and we know that the presence of the Holy is here.  But much of our lives is pretty ordinary.  Much of our lives isn’t spent in anticipation of God’s grace, isn’t spent with decorations reminding us of his love.  Much of our lives isn’t spent believing without doubt. 

The shepherds left Mary and her infant knowing that the things the angel told them were true and they came to pass.  Mary was left pondering all that had happened in her heart.  This Christmas let us remember that through a humble beginning God brought us the greatest gift of all – through an ordinary women God’s son was born.  Without lights or presents Jesus was born into this world on a dark evening vulnerable and without shelter. 

Whatever we may be without this Christmas season let us be filled with the love that God had for us knowing that he sent his only son to come to know humanity not for the awestruck wonder of our lives sometimes but for the quiet and vulnerable moments that make up most of our lives.  And that the biggest present doesn’t fit under the tree and can’t be wrapped for it is God’s grace and mercy.  Let us accept the amazing grace that is the Christ Child and spread the love of God now and forever knowing and pondering that God has even more planned for us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas is Complicated

My favorite story from last Christmas was an exchange between my then 4 year old and 6 year old.  We have a large nativity that is always placed on our table.  They were playing with the pieces when the 4 year old says very proudly "this is Jesus."  However he was holding up Joseph and it took less than a second for this sister to correct him: "no! That is Joseph Jesus' daddy, Jesus is the baby."  She points to the baby (yes gasp! we put out Jesus early!).  Then she says in her teaching tone: "that is Joseph, Jesus' father."  My 4 year hold very upset says: "No, that can't be, Jesus' dad is God!"  and then in all the wisdom of the wise universe the 6 year old says: "it is very complicated but Jesus has two dads."
The next day, my 4 year old and I were sitting at the table and he proudly picks up Joseph and says to me: "This is Jesus' earth's dad." 

Christmas is complicated.  The birth story of Jesus is and yet at the same time simple.  It is us and our society and our time that make things that could be simple into complicated webs.  It is our projection on the "normal" that makes the Spiritual seem unbelievable.  Jesus reminds us to come to him as little children, because of this vary reason.  My 4 and 6 year old can simply accept that Christmas is complicated and be open to the power. They can be inspired by the story without letting every detail of the story get in the way of belief.  More importantly they can see Jesus as both/and instead of either/or.  A powerful reminder to us this holiday.  Let us embrace this.  Let us go out into the complicated world with our complicated Christmas story and simply live; simply love and in awe simply worship.

Sunday, December 3, 2017