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

Posts tagged ‘love’

If Not Now, When?

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

It’s not about doctrine.  It’s about relationships.  Leonard Sweet coined this a few years back in a book called, Out of the Question and Into the Mystery.  We have gotten so hung up on right thinking that we have forgotten about right relationship. How we respond to and interact with those around us speaks volumes about our faith as well as our own relationship with God.  For many people today there seems to be a disconnect between what we say we believe and how we treat others.   Bible closed with a chain lock

A few years back I had to come to terms with this in my own family.  A dispute over a will dredged up old wounds and slights which became the catalyst for fifteen years of silence between myself and others in my family.  Not one of my proudest moments but at the time I felt totally justified.  Funny thing about that self-righteous justification.  It went from feeling so good to feeling like a gnawing hole in my soul and one I tried my best to ignore.  Births and weddings went unacknowledged.  Connections were lost and relationships were badly injured. 

There was nothing scriptural or faithful about this family destroying feud.  And, even though, it took fifteen years, I finally had to come face to face with the disconnect that I created between what I professed to believe and how I was acting.  It became clear that I had to apologize for my part in this rending of the family fabric and I did.

Here’s the thing, though.  Only one of those involved accepted my apology.  Grateful for her grace, the fact was that the fabric was still torn.  In addition, a further tear occurred as anger was directed at her for reconciling with me.  Sigh….

And the final tear came with a death and the fabric in that relationship could never be repaired. 

Alan Paton said in Cry, The Beloved Country, that “the tragedy isn’t that things are broken.  The tragedy is that they are not mended again.”  broken heart

So what does this have to do with Sabbath keeping?  It’s not about doctrine. It’s about relationships.  The keeping of Sabbath is not about doctrine.  It’s about the relationship we have with God, maintaining that relationship and letting that relationship guide our decisions and actions.  The more deeply I became aware of the call of God on my life and in my relationships, the more deeply I heard and experienced the words love one another as I have loved you. The more deeply I was convicted by God’s grace that my faith and my life’s relationship had to be based on the love and reconciliation given to me, the more deeply I knew I had to live out that love and reconciliation with those with whom I was estranged.  

And as I shared it didn’t work out happily ever after.  What it did do, though, was bring me into congruence with my values based on my relationship with God.  My relationship was God was righted in my own heart. 

Don’t misunderstand this and attempt to reconcile with an abusive relationship – that cannot be of God or to put yourself into a one down position with anyone.  God created us and loved us equally.  No one better or less than. 

I realize that this moment in my life relationships and my relationship with God created a shift that informs my Sabbath time, my time set aside with God, which in turn informs my time with those that God has placed in my life.  And I remember…It’s not about doctrine.  It’s about relationships.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.”  1 Cor. 13.1

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Moment Peace

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

The violence continues in our world.  Whether it is Boston, Aurora, Tuscon, Newtown, Baghdad, New Delhi, New York City, or any small town or large country in the world, the violence continues.  Behind the violence is everything from anger to fear to mental illness to vengeance to religious beliefs, to economics, to the need for power…and probably many more human frailties we cannot quite understand or accept as reasons to kill innocent people.   If the violence comes because of a war, we label the innocents as collateral damage.  If the violence seems like a random act, we label the perpetrators and we put more and more restrictions in place.  Faced with such irrational behavior it is our attempt to control it and keep the general public safe.  And this is not a criticism of new safety procedures.  It is simply an observation.  We live in a violent world. 

Of course, it isn’t the world that is violent but the people who inhabit it.  I read once that in all of recorded history there has been only a total of 3 minutes when there wasn’t a war somewhere on earth.  We are a violent species.

So what does this have to do with Sabbath Moments, you ask?  It’s the individual aspect of violence and our response to it that draws me to Sabbath Moments.  For every act of violence and every horrible war ever fought there have been incredibly brave, compassionate people who have stepped in and stepped up to respond with love and kindness.  Somewhere inside these people is a sense of peace that moves them forward.

Where does this inner peace come from?  It comes from a sense of connection to something or someone bigger than themselves and bigger than any act of violence. 

I read angry Facebook posts every day.  I listen to angry on air personalities or politicians broadcast fear and lies to an already scared population and I wonder where is their peace?  Do they have any inner peace?  What is it that keeps them from offering love rather than hate? 

Spending daily time with God and letting God’s peace infuse our minds and hearts certainly is an antidote to all the anti-peace surrounding us.  It is our inner peace that will flow outward even in the midst of violence.  Jesus was clear that those who live by the sword will die by the sword, that we will reap what we sow, and that the peace the world offers is no match for the peace that he offers. 

It has been hard this week but I have stepped up my reading of those verses that talk about God’s love for all the world, that remind me that vengeance is God’s, and that if I want the peace that passes all understanding I have to keep my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.  Spending time with the God of love in Sabbath Moments is a way to inner peace.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

                                                                                                                                                                         Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Jesus said, “For a brief time still, the light is among you.  Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going.  As you have the light, believe in the light.  Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives.  You’ll be children of light.”  John 12.35-36 The Message

May you have peace this week, my friends, may you find peace.

Nancy

Sabbath Moment Reboot

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Happy New Year!  I hope your holidays were joyful and that you were able to experience friends, family and faith in meaningful ways.

For many of us this holiday season was muted by the tragedies in Newtown, CT and Webster, NY.  I found it hard to feel lighthearted and merry this year as my heart ached for those families who were living through their worst nightmares.   However, there was a deep inner joy that was present because of the reason for the season – God’s sending of his light into a world of darkness so many centuries ago.   And that joy cannot be changed regardless of external circumstances.  I have learned that I can be sad and still have joy in my heart because of my faith.  My inner joy of faith is not the same as feeling happy.

And, perhaps, because this year’s circumstances left me so unhappy about the culture we live in, the increasing lack of respect for human life and the horrific nature of the loss around me, I found my joy a rock upon which to stand, actually, to cling. 

This joy is not a pollyanna-ish joy that just skips along on the surface with a la-de-da and fair-thee-well attitude.  This joy has taken years to develop and grow.  This joy is the result of walking with God and knowing that no matter how awful the world treats me or each other that God is the constant beacon of light calling me forth to be more than I think I can be.  This light shines on the darkness and shows me the shadows in areas that need  improvement.  Improvement that can only come from the outpouring and sharing of love.

The tragedies have shown us how incredibly good, gracious and generous people can be.  We have truly witnessed far more than  just the evil side of human nature.  There has been an outpouring of love, support, and offers of help from total strangers to total strangers who are now friends because of the love modeled and given to us by God. 

How does all of this connect to Sabbath Moments?  Without taking time out of our busy days and weeks to sit with God, to talk to God, to walk with God, we cannot know this joy and peace that comes in the midst of sadness and chaos.  Like any relationship we need to stay connected to God in order for our understanding and appreciation of the other to develop into trust. 

What is your commitment to growing your relationship with God this year?  Have you been a little lax in taking Sabbath Moments lately?  Now is the time to reboot your spiritual core and make time for God.  The tragedies are not over I am sure.  Grief, pain, death and evil are not going away anytime soon.  However, we do have the opportunity to build up our defenses against them and to be in relationship with the one whose love never ends and whose arms fiercely and tenderly hold us in our sorrow. 

How will you jumpstart your spiritual batteries this week?  May I suggest sitting and meditating on this passage:

“You are true to your name, and you lead me along the right paths.  I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won’t be afraid.  You are with me, and your shepherd’s rod makes me feel safe.”  Psalm 23.3b-4 (CEV)

Blessings on your journey,

Nancy

Words of Life in a Sabbath Setting

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Have you ever heard a lyric from a song, read a line from a poem or experienced a description in a book in such a way that time seems to stop and you enter into the words as if they were speaking to your essence? 

Lovers have “their song” that draws them together and reminds them of the love they share.  Men and women carry phrases, one liners, or proverbs in their minds to pull out when they need to feel encouraged or to encourage others.  I have a friend who can pull up the lyrics to a song to fit almost any situation and they always add to our understanding. 

Many Christians have a favorite scripture that speaks to their heart or a hymn that sends their spirits soaring or brings a lump to their throat.  

Words have great power. 

I am drawn to words of scripture that focus on life, light and love.  “I put before you this day, blessing and curse, life and death; choose life” from Deuteronomy is one of my favorites.  As the days start to get shorter, passages about light and how the light came into the world and the darkness has not been able to overcome it buoy my spirits as it grows darker earlier and earlier.  And when I am feeling anything but lovable, the words from Jeremiah remind me that God has “loved me with an everlasting love.” 

Sabbath is a day that is meant to be filled with words of life, light and love.  Sabbath is a time when words have great power reminding us of God’s great love for us and our well-being.  Candles are lit on Sabbath to signal its beginning and announce the time to rest has come into our lives. 

This week focus your Sabbath moments around words that lift you up, that bring you life, remind you of how much God loves you and how that love lights your life.  Light some candles, put on your favorite music or hymns, read some favorite passages either from the scripture or poetry and just savor the words as they whisper to you.

“shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” 

Philippians 2.15b-16a

Blessings,

Nancy

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