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

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Advent as Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Now that we are about to begin the third week of Advent it has dawned on me that Advent is in many ways a four-week Sabbath experience.  Or it could be.

Advent is a time of waiting and the word itself means coming.  So it is, for Christians, a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus.  It is a time of preparation where we review our readiness for the arrival of the one who will change the world’s view of everything; and, if we let him, change us. 

Nativity-Vector

It is not necessarily a quiet waiting but rather an active waiting as Parker Palmer calls it and, yes, that active waiting can be quiet.  It can also, however, be a time of activity that requires us to open ourselves up to what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  It may require some extra time with the Bible. It may require some extra time with a spiritual advisor or director.  It may require extra time at church or in prayer or journaling. 

Unfortunately, the kind of activity we do during Advent has more to do with preparing our homes and our trees with the festive trimmings of Christmas. christmas preparation blog An exhausting endeavor for many and one that leaves little time for active reflection and soul-searching. 

(Maybe that is why we get ourselves so crazy busy each Advent season.  It is easier to do the things that exhaust us than it is to look at the things that make us uncomfortable and convict us as  followers of Jesus.  BTW this is also why I think there is so much in conflict in churches.  It detracts us from the real work of being disciples which is far harder than stirring up dissension and we can avoid the whole messy discipleship thing..but I digress)

As with a true Sabbath observance Advent is a time of celebration and remembrance.  We celebrate the joy of the one who we know is coming and we remember just how significant that coming was/is/will be for us. 

I know we are drawing close to the final countdown to Christmas, and I know how busy these final days can be.  However, what if we made an extra effort to prioritize the heart preparation for Christmas during these last two weeks and let ourselves be part of an Advent Sabbath?  What would that look like in your life?  How would this add to your Christmas preparation rather than detract from it?  What would have to change to make it happen?  What might change if you did? 

Christmas Angel

…and all were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  Luke 2.18-19

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

Sabbath Moments and Christmas

merry-christmas-4Dear Sabbath Seekers,

This will be my last post until the New Year. 

I am going to take an extended Sabbath to be totally present during Christmas to God, my family and friends.  After a year of practicing Sabbath Moments, I am ready to take it to the max!  It’s been a very busy year and especially the last 3 months.  Whenever I get busy due to circumstances, scheduling glitches, or life, I find I cannot be as fully present with the things and people who matter the most to me.  It’s just the way I’m wired.  That’s why taking Sabbath Moments is a good practice for me to stop and be present at least for a little while.

Now I am ready to extend that to a two-week period. 

Taking time to recoup, to sit quietly with God, to share intimate time with family and friends is a blessing I/we often ignore or refuse to take full advantage of.  Many of us feel we need permission to stop being busy or get sick so we don’t need permission. 

God gave us permission to do this once a week.  He commanded us to do it for 24 hours.  We took this great gift and said, “Thank you very much, but, um…I really can’t accept it.”  I can just see God shaking his head and saying, “Your loss. You really don’t know better than I do.” 

So for Christmas this year, how about we give God a smile and say “Thank you very much for this wonderful gift of Sabbath.  I will use it as if my life depended on it.”  (Which by the way it does.)

And in the midst of celebrating the gift of Emmanuel, the incarnation, you can begin by taking at least a 24 hour block of time to truly put Christ back into Christmas.  (It really has nothing to do with a phrase but action on our part.)

“Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath, that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days.  Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; not one is to go out.  So the people rested on the seventh day.’  Exodus 16.29-30

Merry Christmas and Happy Sabbath, 

Nancy

Sabbath Moments and Sky Gazing

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I recently bought a card that says “Lying on your back watching the clouds is never a waste of time, especially when I am with you.”  It is a sweet sentiment between human beings.  And even without another person to watch the clouds with, it is soooo true.   cloudsA little cloud watching is never, ever a waste of time.

But what if that card came from God?  What if God sent you that card?   Better yet, let’s assume God did send you that card.  What would you do?  Would you run out and look at the clouds knowing that God was with you?  Would you spend some down time with God just absorbing the beauty of the skies? 

Or would you say, “Not now, God, I’ve got a ton of things to do and I’ll never be ready for Christmas if I stop and waste, oops I mean, and watch the clouds float by.”  Unfortunately, I can hear myself saying this. Down time is idle time in our frenetic lives, isn’t it?  

And yet, this card sums up Sabbath beautifully.  Stopping your normal routine to gaze upon the heavens with God is a weekly command no matter what the demands are upon your day. 

During this season of Advent and waiting for the light to break through the darkness maybe we should take this sky gazing one step further.   Why not gaze at the stars, too?  Just as the Magi did so many centuries ago, we could watch the stars, look at the vastness of the heavens and marvel that in this whole universe we mattered enough to God to give us Emmanuel…God with us.

So stop.  Look up at the heavens day or night and be knocked off your feet by the power, beauty of magnitude of God’s love for us. 

“Moon and stars mounted in their settings.  Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, ‘Why do you bother with us?  Why take a second look anyway?'”

                                                                                             Psalm 8.3-4 The Message

Happy Sabbath gazing,

Nancy

Sabbath Moment Christmas

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I’m signing off until the New Year to enjoy time with family, friends and my faithful God. 

Thank you for reading these moments this year.  I hope they have brought you peace, refreshment and a connection to God in the midst of all your busy lives. 

Christians struggle to experience the full meaning of Sabbath as a day of celebration, special food, fun, conversation and holy time with God.  Christmas is one of those days where we can participate in a Sabbath in its true essence. 

So enjoy the Sabbath moments ahead of you.  Let them surprise you.  Savor them.  And may they wash over you with joy and peace.

“I bring you glad tidings of great joy that will be for all people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.”  Luke 2.10-11

                  “And Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” Luke 2.19

Let the light shine in your hearts now and always,

Nancy

 

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