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Archive for the ‘rest’ Category

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  

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Stress and Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

iStock_000010338713Medium

Yesterday I heard a sermon that talked about how Sabbath is God’s antidote to stress.  Sabbath is a once a week cleansing of our stress levels if we are obedient in taking one.  He detailed all the things we know all too well about life.  It’s busy.  It’s fast and it is stressful.  No matter who you are, no matter your stage in life, no matter your station in life, no matter your gender…if you are alive, you have stress.  Some of it is good and some of it harms us.  Y’all know that.

However, he turned a phrase that made my ears perk up.  He said something like if we run our stress through a Sabbath we end up with strength.  The image came to me of Sabbath as a giant colander or machine that we could put our stress in one end and wait for the strength to come out the other end.  Or, like going to the hairdresser and saying give me a fresh look and after a little shampoo, color and trim, voila there you are all refreshed and feeling good.fashion-hair-salon-office-for-lady-gentleman-version-top-hair-game-art-work

Taking time on Sabbath to just rest, do nothing and let God refresh us does make us feel stronger the next day.  Mondays after a particularly restful Sunday can find me energized and ready to move into the week.

On other hand, without rest after a busy week my stress simply becomes strain on me, my energy and definitely goes with me into the next week leaving me with far less strength than I need to be productive.

God knew what our bodies, minds and spirit would need after navigating the ups and downs of life each week.  So I wonder why we think we know more than God and ignore that wonderful gift of a Sabbath day’s rest?

My four-year-old granddaughter served as my mentor on learning what Sabbath could be like.  I chronicled my experiences with her in a book I just published called “A Sabbath Journey – a little child shall lead us.”  It is now available on Amazon if you are interested in a monthly devotional book that allows you time to reflect each week and try a new approach to Sabbath taking.  I hope you will check it out and enjoy.

http://www.amazon.com/Sabbath-Journey-little-child-shall/dp/1502926067/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421689012&sr=1-1&keywords=a+sabbath+journey

Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11.28

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

How Silently, How Silently

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

red bellsThe Christmas carols are playing everywhere you go these days except in many churches.  Church-goers complain mightily that the hymns during this time of the year are not Christmas carols and not ones they enjoy singing.  The reason for this, as many a pastor will tell you, is that this is Advent.  We haven’t reached Christmas and its season of celebration yet.  Advent is a time of waiting and quietly reflecting on the light that this world so desperately needs to see.  However, waiting, being quiet and reflecting on what we really need does not suit the bottom line of stores who are eager to begin racking up Christmas sales in October. 

So every store we walk into is blaring Joy to the World or Silent Night while there seems to be anything but around us.  If Santa Claus brings enough toys to put sales in the black and make all the little boys and girls happy, then we will be joyful and finally take a long winter’s rest. 

Or will we?

We know in our heart of hearts that joy doesn’t come in a jolly old elf with a round little belly.  Joy comes in the muck and mud of a homeless, unwed couple tucked away in a dirty barn or cave awaiting the birth of their baby who will come amid blood, sweat and tears.  No wonder we had to pretty it up and add a dash of red, reindeer and romance combined with holiday parties, presents and procrastination.  christmas preparation blog

And exhaustion.

Advent is the antidote to that exhaustion if we are wise enough to embrace it. The carol, “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” reminds us:

          “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!

          So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.”

It is in the silence that the gift is given and if we aren’t silent, then how will we know when the gift has arrived.  Advent and Sabbath are both times of stopping to listen for the gift that God wants to impart to us – time to reflect on what is really important – a life in God’s care. 

Advent is almost over and the Christmas celebration will officially begin but there are still 52 Sabbath opportunities every year to stop, rest, reflect and listen for the blessing of heaven that God sends to us. 

May the season of light and love fill your hearts and minds with the power of God’s peace and joy.   iStock_000027543299XSmall

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all who make Sabbath a priority in their lives. 

“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2.20

Blessings,

Nancy       

Awe and Wonder

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I’ve missed you!  I had a busy November traveling along the East Coast and the importance of taking Sabbath Moments became abundantly clear to me.  Driving thousands of miles allows for some alone time but not the type of time needed for meditation and reflection – obviously!

There were many adventures during this trip and one of them became a Sabbath moment to remember.

During the Thanksgiving weekend we were in Atlanta visiting my daughter and her family.  Atlanta’s Botanical Gardens presents a fabulous light extravaganza throughout their grounds.  There are twinkling stars hanging from tree branches, brightly lit snowflakes falling through the air, and in one part there is an elevated walkway that takes you through the trees sparkling with colors of all hues.  It truly is magical…as if you have walked into the pages of your favorite fairy land book.

IMG_3076My six-year-old granddaughter, Arianna, sparkled almost as much as the lights as she took in the wonder of it all for the first time.  As I glanced back over my shoulder to watch her as we entered the walkway, I witnessed her slowly turning in a circle, mouth open in a silent ‘oh my’ and her eyes hungrily trying to capture all that was around her.  It was one of those priceless moments for me.

The awe and wonder on her little face shone as bright as the lights themselves.  She was in another time and place that she had only imagined before.

And it hit me…this is the response of one who has entered into the presence of God.  Awe and wonder combined to transport us to another time and place.  The awe and wonder of Sabbath.

How often do we stop and look around us in awe and wonder at how beautiful the world is, how amazing the stars are, and how much God loves us to provide all of it for our benefit?  Not too often if I am any gauge of that.

Sabbath’s design allows us to stop and like a little six-year-old girl we can stand in awe taking it all in and offer our own version of ‘oh my’ in a prayer of gratitude.

How would your life change if you took 24 hours to immerse yourself in the awe and wonder of God’s love and creation?

Home Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I have a confession to make…sometimes I do home church.  Well, more accurately, I do home worship.  What do I mean by that?  Instead of going to an established worship service in a local church, I stay home and hold my own worship within the quiet of my inner sanctuary. 

Some would argue that it is not possible to do that because worship is done collectively and I will give you the point.  spiritual energyAll I know is that sometimes I just need the quiet of my own home, the Bible, a devotional or two, some beautiful music playing in the background, candles burning, and God and I have a cup of coffee together.  It is a very relaxing way to begin my Sabbath. 

Perhaps it is because Sunday’s at church can be rather hectic with announcements, meetings, to do lists to be accomplished, people to see and criticisms to deal with that I need a quiet, non-public kind of worship time.    And it isn’t always but when I know I need solitude with God this is how I do it. 

How do you find quiet time with God in a busy, crazy world – yes, even in the church?  What are the things that you do to still your mind, open your heart and relax your body in the presence of God? 

And here’s a novel thought…what would happen if churches became more like a sanctuary in time for the weary worldly traveler rather than another busy couple of hours in the week? 

Maybe I’m a Quaker at heart.  What do you think?

“Here’s what I want you to do:  Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.  Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.  The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”  Matthew 6.6 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Joke

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Recently my six-year-old granddaughter has taken to carrying around a small New Testament.  She told her mother that it was a really cool and funny book because there were so many jokes in it.  Her mother said that she didn’t think there were jokes in the New Testament to which my granddaughter replied, “Oh, Mom, there must be at least one!”

Well, we may not think of the Bible as a joke book but, yes, my dear sweet granddaughter there are a couple of jokes in there.  And one of them is the fourth commandment.  It isn’t a joke to those of us who take it seriously but to the world it is a joke.

Clock in waste paper basketHow funny and absurd is it to think of taking a 24 hour respite once a week?  Pretty funny according to a world that laughs at such a suggestion and ignores its power and ability to help us see the world through brighter eyes as we lighten up when we set down our weekly and even daily burdens.

The laugh is on the world, though, because they are missing out on one of the best medicines in the world — rest and refreshment.

And when my granddaughter went to bed that night in her prayingbedtime prayers she thanked God for the good day, the fun she had with Momma and her friends.  She also asked God for a good day tomorrow and please to bless her family.  Then she added, “Oh, and God, I hope you have a good day tomorrow too!”

Methinks this little six-year-old is a theologian in the making and has a deeply spiritual heart.  She worries that the world might not be getting all the energy, joy and laughter out of the Bible and wants God to have a good day.

I think God looks down on her and smiles.  God knows she understands that Sabbath is just the ticket for both. 

“A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17.22IMG_1058_opt

Happy Sabbath keeping,

Nancy

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