For the busy person who wants to stay connected to God throughout the week!

Archive for March, 2013

Sabbath Moments: Pausing to Remember

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Today is Good Friday.  Many people question why it is called Good when such bad things happened on that day so many years ago.  The thinking is that although it was a horrible death, it brought about incredible good.  And many people pause to remember on Good Friday the magnitude of the sacrifice Jesus made for the world he loved that was hell-bent on rejecting him.

Pausing to remember is the basic underlying principle of Sabbath.  It is a day to pause and remember all that God has done for us.  On Holy Week we have two Sabbaths that bring remembering to the forefront.  One is a day to pause and contemplate the death of a good man who willingly accepted an excruciating death, offered forgiveness to those who were killing him, and who put his complete trust in God.  The second is to pause and remember that we worship a God who can overcome death, roll away our sins, and transform logic into the theologic of joy and life eternal.  That’s a lot to remember! 

And that is a lot to be thankful for and to celebrate. 

Pausing, taking time, to remember, to give thanks and to celebrate is what gives our Sabbaths and our Sabbath moments meaning and purpose.  And in turn it is what gives our lives meaning and purpose.

Pause today, Sunday and each day throughout the work to remember how blessed you are, how gracious God is, and how one man gave his life for the forgiveness of many. 

Be blessed for we know “He is Risen!  He is Risen, Indeed!”

Nancy

 

 

 

 

A Moment of Sabbath in Chaos

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Well, there was another tornado warning siren this week.  This one caught me totally off guard because I had not been watching television.  It had rained and thundered off and on during the afternoon but I hadn’t heard of any possible tornadoes from this storm.  So, just before the siren went off I was preparing for a dinner guest in complete oblivion of what was heading my way. 

The supper was cooking, the candles were lit, music was playing in the background as I sat waiting for my guest to arrive.   Just as I opened the door to greet her the siren went off and by the look of panic on her face I knew this wasn’t a fire call.  She said that a tornado was expected and that we needed to go to the gym in the complex which is protected and underground.  As I quickly turned off the stove, blew out the candles and grabbed my raincoat, the wind came up, the thunder and lightning hit simultaneously and we were running down the hall to the exit.  When we reached it, however, it was raining so hard you could not see a foot in front of you.  The sky was pitch black and the wind was howling.  I said, “we aren’t going to the gym in this,” and praying one of my more profound prayers “Help us, Lord,” we headed back up to my second story apartment. 

Once back inside I turned on the television to see the angry red line of tornado producing storms on the weather map.  ‘Yessir, that is our area’ I thought to myself.  Standing in the living room watching the storms move we wondered if we should go to the inside closet and wait it out.  While we were wondering that we didn’t hesitate to decide that a glass of wine would be helpful either way. 

The rain continued to beat against the windows, the thunder and lightning provided background music and the TV showed the line of storms passing by.  It looked like we had dodged another one.   Because these storms rotate quickly we sat in front of the TV watching the weather channel, eating our dinner, sipping our wine and talking.  We watched as other areas became targeted and hit and we were grateful that no one was injured. 

Looking back on all of this what I zero in on is our  sitting on the floor, eating, talking, drinking wine and being very aware of the power of nature to bring chaos in a minute’s notice.  And yet, despite the chaos outside, inside I felt there a sense of Sabbath, a recognition that God is the creator and we are the creatures, a remembrance that the food and wine, both products of nature, nourish the body and soul in times of trial.  Even in the midst of confusion and fear, there was shalom, a feeling of peace and well-being, because of God’s presence felt in another’s company and in the meal we shared.

Spending time in Sabbath moments has allowed me to find peace in the midst of chaos or anxiety.  When the warning sirens go off in my life, I can recall the peace of Sabbath because taking regular Sabbath moments has become a body memory embedded in my DNA – which I now define as  Do Not be Anxious.

This week as you practice your Sabbath Moments refresh yourself with some of the things that bring you closest to God and assure you that you can trust God in all things.

“Be not afraid.  I go before you always.  Come follow me, and I will give you rest.”  Robert J. Dufford

Blessings,

Nancy

 

From Sabbath Moments to Sabbath Days

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

This week I have had the very unusual opportunity to have two days with no responsibilities.  And I used them to do only things that bring me rest, joy and space to be creative.  Now, some of you may think what’s the big deal? Believe me this is a HUGE deal for me. I am one of those people who teaches best what she most needs to learn.  Taking a full 24 hours for downtime and not for errands or chores in the midst of a regular week is not my MO.  Taking two 24 hour days to do that is unheard of unless I am on vacation or sick.  

One day was by choice and one was a surprise.  One was a weekend day where I just decided to shut down and be engaged in a full Sabbath.  The other was a weekday that caught me off guard and almost threw me into a panic because it wasn’t planned out.  Then, I realized I didn’t have to plan it out.  All I needed to do was enjoy it and by the end of it I had experienced a second Sabbath in the same week.

Ahh…sigh…bliss…blessing.

There is no doubt that taking Sabbath Moments to be with God keeps me connected in my busy life every day.  And, they are no substitute for a full 24 hour Sabbath in the rest, refreshment and renewal of God’s gift to us. 

So here is my challenge to you Sabbath Seekers:  Take a 24 hour Sabbath rest this week or at least by the end of the month.  Establish a habit of one a month – more if you can.  I know it may take some creative scheduling on your part but it will be well worth it.  Jesus often took a day to go off alone and pray and just be with God.  If Jesus needed it and could do it, it seems that we could follow his example. 

Sabbath is a sacred time that allows for healing of the body, mind and spirit from the trauma and wounds of every day living.  Create this type of space and environment in your life and let it be a non-negotiable. 

“Therefore, God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.”  Exodus 20.11b The Message

Be blessed, be still

Nancy

Sabbath Moments and Anger

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I have been noticing lately the increase of angry posts on Facebook.  It seems that this venue gives people permission to say whatever they want about whatever they want often without a great deal of personal knowledge or research into certain topics.  And their anger triggers an anger response from others.  I’m as guilty as the next person on this.

Now, I know there is a great deal to be angry about in this day age regardless of which side of almost any issue you are on from gun control to budget deficits to health care to religious beliefs to relationship advice.

One of the things that I am working on this year is my response to things that cause me to become angry.  I want very much to stop being and feeling so angry so much of the time.  In doing this I am learning to pay attention to my thinking, my reading material, and my relationships.  And this is where Sabbath Moments have been very helpful.

Regular time with God, prayer, scripture and literature that uplifts and gives me positive ways of framing responses has been a tremendous help in keeping me focused and peaceful inside.  There is a direct relationship between my inner calm and my time spent in Sabbath Moments.  And the more time I focus on the power, peace, and purpose of God, the less time I have to be angry.

Everyone is on their own spiritual journey.  Some of those journeys include anger.  I’ve learned some hard and unpleasant lessons from my anger and since learning is optional, I am grateful.  However, a steady diet of anger only keeps me from experiencing the great banquet of joy and peace that God has set before me.

Have you done an anger inventory lately?  On a scale of one to 10 what is the level of your anger at this moment?  With someone who disagrees with you?  Watching the news?  Reading the paper?    How does your anger manifest itself?  Does it set boundaries (righteous indignation) and move relationships forward or does it attack with intent to take down your opponent?

Take your anger inventory to God this week and let your Sabbath Moments soothe and calm and move you toward inner peace in God’s healing presence.

“Do not the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4.26-27

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Moment Play

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Usually I am with my granddaughter each afternoon for about 4 hours.  The afternoons are full of play like dress up, tea parties,  craft time, dolls, trucks, snacks and, if I am lucky, a little down time!!!  And the time passes quickly with all this play and laughter filling our lives each day.   This past week her Dad came home early and I was only there about 45 minutes.  As I got ready to leave, she looked at me and said, “but we didn’t get time to play.”

Again, she triggered an idea for a Sabbath Moment.  I wonder how often God feels like that as we rush around completing tasks, doing errands and not taking time to play in his creation or spend some playful moments with him?

And I don’t think I am being sacrilegious saying this.  Look at the world that God created in its raw beauty and nature.  Birds sing and swoop and play in the sky.  Clouds dance and trees clap their hands with the wind.  The brooks babble and foam in a frenzy of running and tripping along their path.  Flowers turn their faces up to the sun and burst open with a beauty that makes us smile.  Wild animals run, jump, climb and wrestle with each other.  There is playing going on all over creation.

Why have we reduced time with God to some routine prayers?  Or, equate it to a sermon that may or may not inspire us?  Or, think that time with God always has to be solemn or hard work?  Now, I know not everyone does that.  And I also know that many people do.  The church has a lot of explaining to do on that point I fear.  But I digress.

So for your Sabbath Moments this week find time to play with God or in God’s creation.  If you can’t find ways to play, then find ways to be playful in your attitude.   Relax into the playfulness of snowflakes floating through the air and landing on your nose.  Rest in the warmth of the sunshine and let it warm your insides too.  Refresh yourself in the basics of nature and let its beauty fill your heart and mind with joy and peace.  These are moments of play.  These are Sabbath moments.

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than we are at play.”  Charles Schaefer

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”  Isaiah 55.12

Playful blessings,

Nancy

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