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

Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Fun in the Son

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

IMG_3111This week I am sharing an excerpt from my book, A Sabbath Journey: and a little child shall lead them which I wrote after I took a sabbatical year to spend with my granddaughter in Georgia. The book is a devotional book based on my experiences with my four-year-old granddaughter who showed me a new way to appreciate Sabbath Moments.  Here is one of them from chapter 6.

Fun in the Son:

Ari’s father put up a swing set for her to play on in the backyard and, oh, how she loves to swing. Each day after school she rushed into the house and out the back door to hit the swings. And trailing behind her is always the same request “Nana, come push me on the swing. Hurry, Nana!” Being the good Nana that I am – I do.

She needed a lift up onto the seat and then a good push to set her flying into the air. “Higher and harder” she would command between giggles as she kicked her legs and pointed her toes trying to reach the sky. Once she had the height she wanted and a rhythm is established she would open up and begin to talk.

It was here on the swing that she would tell me about God. “Nana, did you know that God created the trees? And the clouds? And the animals, even the bugs, ewww?” With a joy that soared like her flight on the swing she was seeing God’s creation all around her in all her innocence and all of its beauty.IMG_1261

I can’t help but think this is what God wanted us to do on the Sabbath. To let our spirits soar and take in all the beauty around us – the beauty of creation that had been placed in our lives, in our hands, and in our care.

After our afternoons on the swing I found myself looking at the trees, the flowers, and even the bugs with a new eye and with great gratitude.IMG_1237

It doesn’t matter if you are an evolutionist or a creationist. You can certainly appreciate the beauty of the earth and the truth that it is a bountiful gift to enjoy fully. Sometimes I just have to agree with the statement that some things are a mystery to be enjoyed and not a problem to be solved. Arianna seemed to know this instinctively.

Spending time in nature always calms my soul and reminds me that I am a mere creature in this marvelous creation.

I remember standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon a few years ago and being overwhelmed at the magnitude of it. It looked just like the many pictures I had seen of it but it wasn’t until I was standing there that I felt it. The Grand Canyon is palpable in its enormity. The words of Psalm 8:3-4 rushed through me. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you are mindful of him?”

So huge a creation and God cares for me…to let that thought sit in my mind is to be filled with gratitude and awe. I can only imagine that Ari felt that same gratitude and awe as she soared on her swing to look over the treetops and down on the ground where I stood.

Is there a place where you open up to the beauty of God’s creation. It may be more than one place. Visit that place(s) as often as you can this week. What is it that God is saying to you in this place?young mother and her cute daughter swinging on a swing at the beach

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise…” ~Psalm 8:1-2b

Blessings,

Nancy

A Sabbath Journey: and a little child shall lead them by Nancy Leport is available on amazon.com and would make a great Mother’s Day gift for a new mom or grandmom.

 

 

 

Easter: The Ultimate Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

holy bible

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.  Easter is the ultimate Sabbath.  It is a day we observe as a high Holy Day.  It is a day we remember what God has done for us.  It is a day we rejoice and greet with cheers and Alleluia’s.  It is a day we dress up in new clothes especially purchased for this time. Easter bonnet It is a day we worship.  It is a day we spend with friends and family.  It is a day of special food and intentional table fellowship.  It is a day when we acknowledge that the past is over and the new has begun not just for a week but for a life time.  All the things that a traditional weekly Shabbat does.

Yes, it is the ultimate Sabbath.

May Easter bring you peace, rest and joy and may it remind you that you truly are part of something bigger, more powerful and life-giving than we, as humans, could ever imagine.

Fake Butterflies

“Death swallowed up by triumphant Life!  Who got the last word, oh, Death?  Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?”  1 Cor. 15.35 The Message

Blessings to you, Easter People, and Blessed Sabbath,

Nancy

Lent and Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

ash wednesday6Today is Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent.  Many Christians will wear the mark of ashes on their foreheads today signifying their entrance on the path of Lent.  There will be Christians who will give up some things and others who will take something on.  There will be Christians who will enter into a six-week period of spiritual reflection seeking a deeper commitment to Christ.  And there will be Christians who will begin but get sidetracked along the way to Holy Week because life just gets in the way. 

To be honest with you, I have no idea which group I will end up in by the time Maundy Thursday dawns.  My higher self wants to believe I will go deep and long on this playing field and my realistic self isn’t so optimistic. 

It’s a lot like how I approach Sabbath.  Some weeks I am so on top of my game with Sabbath moments and time that I wonder how I ever let myself fall out of that life-giving rhythm and some weeks my discipline is anything but. 

And yet, I try, we try, and some times I/we succeed because somewhere in our heart of hearts I know, we know, how important these ritualized times of breaking away from the day-to-day habits are.  There is something compelling in the human psyche that draws us to periods of reflection on and awareness of the  deeper mysteries of life, our connection to them and what it means to live with a purpose beyond our own material needs. 

I believe that is part of the God seed planted within our souls that yearns to connect with the source of life, love and light.  And if I can nurture that seed enough over the next six weeks of Lent, I know that the light will grow brighter and warmer each day until the Son rises on Easter morning reminding me again of just how much God loves me.  And I also believe that if I take a detour off the Lenten path of reflection and sacrifice, that my God will still shine brightly and still love me on Easter; however, I will be the one who has cheated myself of six weeks of profound companionship and joy.  Woman praising and enjoying golden sunset

“For in him we live and move and have our being.”  Acts 17.28

Blessings,

Nancy

Snow Day Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Blizzard-buried-cars-SouthBoston-09Feb2013There is nothing like a snow day to slow you down.  With winds gusting to 40 mph and snow falling at over an inch an hour the thought of leaving my home was far from motivating.  And even though I was not looking forward to going out, I needed to.  However, after getting stuck in my parking lot before I even got out of my parking space, I knew I was in for the day.  After getting over my initial panic of being stuck and missing an obligation, I relaxed into what turned out to be a wonderfully peaceful day of Sabbath moments.

Why is it that we need a snow day, a sick day or a car breakdown to give us permission to stop and rest?  On the one hand it is a testament to our work ethic and on the other it is warning that we view ourselves as human doings rather than human beings.  And there are times when we need to be a human being and those times come more frequently than the occasional snowstorm, illness or car repair.

Which is why God gave us a 24 hour “snow day” each week to rest and recoup.

On my snow day, I read, -reading-nook_________________________________I napped, cozy bedI meditated and I journaled about how this unexpected lull in my schedule reminded me that I need to practice what I preach.  And one of the blessings of this day was that I was completely alone.  The time plus the solitude brought me to a place where my inner and outer peace were one.  I don’t know about you but having my insides match my outsides exceeds my skill set on more than one day a week.  This congruency or the feeling of being whole and complete in that peacefulness is another gift of God.  It was God’s shalom.  It was a sense that all will be well because at that moment in time all was well with my soul.

So, I asked myself that evening…why is it that I deny myself this sense of shalom, wholeness, peace and well-being in order to be busy? A question that I bet I will ask over and over.   I imagine my answers will be more of excuses than heartfelt replies and those excuses will make my life less than God had intended and I will have no one to blame but myself.

Glimpsing, experiencing, and tasting a day of Sabbath moments when God’s presence filled all the spaces in my external and internal environments made me hungry for that experience to be part of my regular routine.

7 days a weekAnd every seven days I can feast on it without apology or excuse – snow day or not.

“I set before you this day life and death, blessing and curse, therefore, choose life so that you and your children may live.”  Dt. 30.19

Blessings,

Nancy

Pastrix

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I have just finished reading Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  If you have never heard of Pastor Nadia before, she is the tattooed, irreverent, profound, deeply spiritual, constantly seeking answers to theological questions that most of us are too shy to ask or attempt to answer for ourselves pastor and my new hero.  I want to be like her or at least be a better human being as a pastor and a better pastor as a human being because of her audacity. 

Her book hooked me from the introduction and it was hard to put it down.  She reminded me of why I answered the call of God and she convicted me that I had gotten lazy in my answer. 

And some of you will find her irreverence and audacity heresy.  However, I am proclaiming out loud that I did not.  I found her a breath of fresh air in the midst of spiritual crises, clap trap that passes as gospel and theological wrestling matches.  I found her real. 

She inspired me more than anything I have ever written or read before to maintain and increase my Sabbath moments, to open myself up more to God in my day-to-day life, and to let go of the should’s, platitudes and pat answers that invade my mind when I let down my guard against theological cotton candy and the party line. 

Here is a quote that stopped me in my reading:  “We are tempted to doubt our innate value precisely to the degree that we are insecure about our identity from, and our relationship to, God.” (page 139).

This sentence sums up the contradiction I often feel and hear many times from others.  I/we feel that we cannot be close to God because we are not good enough or we messed up so we avoid hanging out with God and talking to God.  She turns that upside down and says unless we are close to God and realize we are a beloved child of God’s without doing anything on our part to earn it, we will feel insecure about our worth and who we are.

Sabbath is not only God’s gift of rest to us but it is also God’s way of helping us be closer to God developing a strong sense of self in order to know and claim that we are truly a child of God.  The more we claim that, the more the world will be changed by our very presence. Woman praising and enjoying golden sunset

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”  Mt. 5.14 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

PS I am a Pastrix too defined by New Wineskins Dictionary.com as 1) a term of insult used by unimaginative sections of the church to define female pastors; 2) Female ecclesiastical superhero: Trinity from The Matrix in a clerical collar; 3) cranky, beautiful, faith of a Sinner and a Saint.

PPS:  Don’t forget to order your copy of my book:  A Sabbath Journey – a little child shall lead them to use as a monthly devotional book that will give you lots of ways to experience Sabbath Moments throughout the year.  It is available through Amazon.com  

Second Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Tomorrow is the second Sabbath of the New Year and so far I must say I am doing quite well maintaining a Sabbath observance.  Last Sabbath after worship I enjoyed a luscious nap, nappinga good book, a good meal and good company.  The second Sabbath of the year will most likely not include a nap.  However, the good meal and good company are on the agenda following worship and without getting too far ahead of myself I will go so far as to say “two for two, woohoo!”

calendar 2015Maintaining a Sabbath attitude for 52 weeks may be a challenge for those of us not used to taking a 24 hour Sabbath – understatement of the year!  And yet, I can see how having a clear intention, making sabbath plans ahead of time, and then following them makes Sabbath keeping more enjoyable.  Just like God intended for those who were called to keep the Sabbath holy.  A day of rest before the work week begins again really does make a difference in my energy level – mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. 

What I hope to do this year…beyond try…is to be intentional about taking a Sabbath day a week.  Initially, I am starting with Sunday but I will allow for the possibility that it could become another day of the week.  However, my goal is one Sabbath a week regardless of the day.  This is a big jump for me from Sabbath moments stolen throughout the day…although those are still good and better than no rest with God. 

It’s in print and it’s out there in cyberspace where you can hold me accountable.  Anyone want to join me?  Do you have an accountability partner?  I would love to hear from you about how you spend your Sabbaths over the next year.  Let me know in the comment box and we can learn from each as well as encourage each other.  I’ll post some of the most creative and restful ones.

As I think ahead to December 27, 2015, the last Sabbath in the year, I want to be accomplished at Sabbath keeping, calmer, filled with peace and hope, and walking a much gentler path in the world.  What about you? 

“Tell the Israelites, ‘Above all, keep my Sabbaths, the sign between me and you, generation after generation, to keep the knowledge alive that I am the God who makes you holy.  Keep the Sabbath; it’s holy to you.” Exodus 31.12-13

Blessings,

Nancy

Who is this Wonder?

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I must admit that I am a bit of a Christmas Eve service snob.  There has to be context, content, and cooperation in every Christmas Eve service I attend…and I have attended many…even led a few myself.  Without those three aspects of the special nature of this particular worship time, I do not feel as if I have been to a service commemorating Christ’s birth. 

And, alas, I didn’t find them in this year’s service that I attended.  More specifically, what I didn’t find was the Christmas story either from Matthew or Luke and it was like missing a dear, old friend who lifts my heat and gives me hope.Nativity-Vector

There were carols, symbols and a short discussion with the children that fleshed out the reason for the service but without that story of Mary, Joseph, the birth, the Shepherds and the Heavenly Host I found the context and content missing.  The scripture to me is a bold reminder of how the incarnation became flesh and dwelt among us in a poor, homeless, unwed couple amid the muck and mud of all that is primal.  It reminds me that God comes in mysterious and unlikely ways and gives me hope this mucky and muddy world we live in. 

And I as I pondered my reaction to this omission, which I am sure didn’t cause anyone else a moment’s angst, I realized that there are many aspects of the Bible that we just don’t hear about very often.  Sabbath being one of them.

Ten CommandmentsWhen was the last time you heard a sermon on the sin of ignoring the fourth commandment?  When was the last time Christians were encouraged to stop and observe a 24 hour rest period because God told us to?  When was the last time that the purpose and power of Sabbath was sung about in a hymn or discussed for 4 weeks at a time?  When was the last time that two major world religions, Judaism and Christianity, issued a joint statement that they agreed upon the need for Sabbath and would be doing everything they could to make it a priority among its followers? When was the last time you heard people arguing over what to call Sabbath – a day of rest vs. a day of catching up on errands? 

Just a few of the thoughts that came to mind as I pondered what happens to me when I don’t have the familiar words read to me to commemorate a special occasion in the Christian church. 

The Lord’s day, Sabbath, Sunday is a special day in the Christian church but we don’t often get upset when it isn’t mentioned, preached about, or used as a reminder of just what a gift that 24 hours of rest was from our God – Emmanuel, God with us. 

Maybe one of the ways we keep the Christmas spirit alive all year is to observe the Sabbath, take Sabbath moments and remember the one whose birth the angels sang about and like Mary, ponder it in our hearts, as we treasure all the gifts of God for the people of God.Christmas Angel

“Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace to all on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2.14

Blessings

Nancy

Tag Cloud