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

Posts tagged ‘sabbath moments’

Spiritual Renewal and Sabbath Keeping

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

In working with a local church on renewal issues, I came across an article written by Lawrence Wilson entitled “7 Ways to Renew Yourself Spiritually.”  In it he lists seven basic spiritual disciplines that Christians have been practicing for centuries.  

They are:  Silence, Solitude, Secrecy, Simplicity, Submission, Service and Sacrifice.  His premise is that modern Christians seek lively worship, great activities and pronounce strong opinions on public morals; yet, we do not act as if we know Jesus very well when it comes to our behavior and attitudes.  

I’ve heard this said often and it usually comes in the form of “church goers are hypocrites.  They profess one thing and do another.” 

According to Wilson, we can move beyond the trap of disconnecting our life from our faith by delving more into these disciplines.  These disciplines help us to stay connected to God throughout the week and allow us the grace and time to reflect on how we can be more like Jesus in our actions.

Keeping Sabbath is a spiritual discipline within submission and simplicity.  In order to keep Sabbath or even to take Sabbath moments we need to submit Ten Commandmentsto the command of God that this is what is required and to simplify enough to have the time and room to enter fully into the presence of God within a Sabbath experience. 

We all know this…in our heads.  The interesting thing is that even though we know it, we don’t do it.  One person from the church I am working with was honest enough to say, “if everyone did this (practice the seven disciplines), we wouldn’t need a renewal process.  We would be acting and not trying to figure this out.  However, I am not very optimistic.  It is difficult not to focus on our own needs and wants.”

Funny thing is what God has created for us in Sabbath keeping meets those very needs and wants – we just are not disciplined enough to realize it.  IMG_1261

“I am the vine and you are the branches.  When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.  Separated, you can’t produce a thing.”    John 15.5 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

 

 

Pinching Leprechauns and Sabbath Security

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

On St. Patrick’s Day my 5 year-old granddaughter’s librarian told her Kindergarten class that if they didn’t wear something green to bed that leprechauns would pinch them all night long!  Needless to say I am not too impressed with this teacher and as you can imagine a 5-year-old took this very literally.  She was panicked by bed time trying to find something green that would cover her and protect her from the pinching little green men.  leprechaun

Eventually, she found a green blanket and slept under it all night.  In the morning, her mom asked her how she slept and she replied, “Good, no pinches but I was sure hot!” 

Children often go to be fearing monsters under their beds or in their closets.  They want or need a light on in order to go to sleep feeling secure in the dark.  And, fortunately, there are a number of a very savvy parents out there who understand this need for their children to feel safe in their beds. 

Prayer is a way to wrap ourselves in the safety and security of God’s arms especially at night.  Children are not the only ones who have trouble not seeing the demons in the dark.  Adults lay awake night after night with visions of worries, disasters, to do lists, resentments, and should have’s dancing in their heads.  Let’s face it they are the equivalent of pinching leprechauns.

waiting prayerWhen we participate in regular Sabbath Moments getting to know God more clearly, nearly and dearly, we also can more easily let go of our demons and rest in God’s arms at night more comfortably, happily and freely. 

This week concentrate on praying to God in a way that opens you up to your fears and then turn them over to God.  See if you don’t sleep better as a result…without a green blanket that keeps you hot all night! 

“…he who watches you over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  Psalm 121.3-4

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Moments and Breakfast

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

This is the season for Breakfast with Santa.  It seems like every organization, school, church and restaurant is offering the opportunity to have breakfast with Santa.  However, most of these breakfasts consist of a lot of children and their parents having breakfast while waiting for Santa to arrive.  Maybe it should be called Breakfast While Waiting for Santa. 

And since for Christians it is also a time of waiting, not for Santa but for Jesus, maybe having breakfast with God would be a great way to spend your Sabbath Moments.  And God will be there from the start not just come in at the end.

There is a lot of precedent in the Bible where Jesus sits at table and shares a meal with people.  One writer says that in Luke there are so many meals you can almost smell the food as you turn the pages.  I would love to have been in on some of those meals to hear what they talked about.  The conversation must have been rich.  

How would you start your day if God were sitting at your breakfast table?  What are the things you would share, ask or reflect on?  How would your day be different if God were your breakfast partner? 

Create your own breakfast ritual with God for your Sabbath Moments this week and pour an extra cup of coffee.

“Zacchaeus, hurry down.  Today is my day to be a guest in your home.”

Luke 19.5 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I don’t know about you but I tend to get caught up in whatever I am doing and whatever is going on around me. 

For example, when I watch the news I can be in tears watching the horror of a typhoon unfold before my eyes and become incensed at the shenanigans of our elected officials.   And I can let those feelings stay with me for hours sometimes days and even years filling myself with despair and/or anger.   At the same time I can get so engrossed in my own life and its ups and downs that I can lose sight of others and their needs.  It is a tension that confounds me. 

It seems that the only times when I gain a healthy perspective is when I take a Sabbath or break for some attitude adjusting Sabbath moments.  It is then that I realize I am part of something so much bigger than me that my mind switches from despair to awe and wonder.

As much as I would like to be the center of the universe and as often as I act like I am, I am reminded in those moments with God that God is in control, always has been and always will be.  My role in this big universe is to serve God, listen to God and to use what God has given me to live out God’s will not mine. 

And just to be clear it is also my job to take my despair and my anger to God so I can find that perspective that moves me forward and gets me unstuck. 

Without my regular Sabbath breaks I do begin to believe that my problems, my agendas, my opinions are the end all, be all of life.  When I allow that to happen I can become petty, mean-spirited and arrogant.  All things that I dislike in others.  However, in my Sabbath moments I can let go of my self-centeredness and become a centered self whose eyes and ears are opened to a fresh perspective.

“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?…Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me if you understand.  Who marked off its dimensions?  Sure you know!…Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place…? Job 38 selected verses

Oconee Station Falls

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Moments and The Mountains

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I am about to take an extended Sabbath moment to the mountains of New Mexico.  Well, to be exact it will be a week-long Sabbath!  And I can’t wait.

The last few months have been pretty much non stop as we sell our house and get ready to move.    Taking Sabbath moments when I could and when I was intentional certainly helped me to slow down and not get too caught up in the urgent details of the day-to-day and helped me appreciate the blessings of the busyness I was living and breathing.  However, I admit that too often that to do list brought  me back to work before I was ready.

The thought of a week to contemplate the beauty of creation in New Mexico is making me all tingly inside.  My Spirit is yearning for some contemplative down time.  

Do you ever reach that point where you crave time to just sit and be, to relax fully into the arms of nature and breathe in the beauty of God’s creation?  I feel sometimes as if I am estranged from the earth itself walking upon it but not realizing it is what we are made of too.

To be able to give my attention to the creator and the creation feels like a privilege I have to earn rather than a benefit of being alive.  How often do we put off taking time to just be in order to finish one more thing on our to do list?  Or the entire to do list???

I know my time in New Mexico will be a special blessing because the landscape is so breathtaking. It will be hard not to connect the creator and the creation.  As I write that sentence it occurs to me that I will be connecting one more thing – myself.  I will be taking time to connect myself to the creator and the creation in this time of immersion in Sabbath. We are in so many ways one. – whole-y one.   

And I also realize that I do not have to travel to New Mexico to experience the connection between God, God’s creation and myself as part of that creation.  Right here in my own backyard, I have beauty, creation and the blessings of the creator.  Time to stop seeing all of this as separate and viewing my surroundings as a context rather than content. 

This week I pray you will stop, breathe in the Spirit of God and be nurtured by the beauty all around you and be whole-y one.  And, yes, do this before you even attempt to finish that to do list. 

IMG_1261

“I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord the Maker of heaven and earth. ” Psalm 121.1-2

Talk with you in two weeks!

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Moments and Hiding

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I’m exhausted mentally, physically and bordering on emotionally too.  I am praying that spiritually I am still on my feet.  Being pushed to my limit has reminded me just how quickly life can become overwhelming.  And I feel guilty because the things that are exhausting me are not tragic, unresolvable, or long-term.  There are far too many people dealing with war, poverty, illness and grief to even compare my little blips on an overwhelm scale.  And no matter how often I tell myself this, I’m still fighting an internal battle to keep my body, mind and spirit on an even keel. 

So, I’ve decided not to pretend everything is ok and face the stressors head on –  deal with those that can be dealt with, get help with those I can’t handle alone and let myself feel what I am feeling knowing it will pass.   I have come to realize that by pretending all is well and that I am just dandy has often caused me more exhaustion than just acknowledging that this is a difficult time and letting it all out. 

The same is true with how open, vulnerable and honest I am with God.  If I keep trying to hide my true feelings from God or pretend I am 100% together spiritually, then I am only kidding myself and depleting my spiritual energy.  God knows how I am feeling even before I do so why hide it or pretend.

My Old Testament professor in seminary was fond of reminding us that God does some of God’s best work when we cry out. 

So I’m not hiding out in my Sabbath Moments this week.  I will let it all hang out trusting that God knows and understands what I most need.  How about you?  Do you find yourself hiding from God or pretending that all is well when your insides are crumbling under the weight of life’s ups and downs?  Join me in real, open Sabbath moment sharing and see what happens to your energy and how God will bless your integrity.

“In my distress I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help.  From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears…He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.”  Psalm 18.6, 16

Blessings,

Nancy

 

Sabbath Moments in the Neighborhood

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Well, I’m back in Western New York to pack up our house and get ready to move.  We still have no idea where we are going but our house is sold so we have to be out – soon!  My Atlanta granddaughter, for whom I have been providing care and transportation for the last year, is not happy that I have come North.   Her tears just about ripped my heart out the other day as I pulled out of her driveway to head back.

Today, we were Skyping and she asked me what I was doing?  I told her that I was packing.  She looked at me and said, “Nana, if you find a house, even if it is pretty, you cannot buy it if it is far away from me.”   I replied by asking, “Where do you want me to live?”  “Next door to me”, she said matter of factly. 

Her response made me wonder how God feels when we begin to move away from him.  When we begin to be attracted and enticed by things that turn our heads and hearts  from God, does God want to say to us…”Nancy, I don’t care how pretty or intriguing or wonderful that new ‘god’ is, you cannot buy into it.  I want you next door to me.” 

Once again Arianna brings me back to the importance of staying close to God and to the ones that God puts in our lives. 

How about you?  Where are you located in relation to your God?  Do you live close by God at all times or do you only visit every once in a while?   Have you moved away lately?  Are you thinking of relocating?  Where is your heart? 

Sabbath Moments are meant to move us closer to God and keep God in our neighborhood at all times.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6.20-22

Blessings,

Nancy

 

 

Sabbath Moments in a Cemetery

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

On Saturday I participated in a graveside service that included a tea party.  That’s right, a tea party. 

My dear friend, Sandra, requested that we have a tea party in the cemetery when we buried her.  And her wish was granted.

For a little background, Sandra loved tea and she loved to give teas.  Several years ago she convinced a friend of hers to let her hold a tea in their barn.  It took a bit of convincing but once it took place it became a summer happening. These same friends are the ones who put on the tea by her grave.

And it was lovely.  As I walked up the little hill to her site the first thing I saw were two tea tables adorned with white linen tablecloths.  Arranged on the tables were tiers of Sandra’s china tea cups and tea pots along with cookies, muffins and Sandra’s favorite – lemon bars.  I stopped in my tracks to take it all in. 

Instead of looking out-of-place it looked like it belonged there.  The morning was warm, the sun was bright with a gentle breeze rustling through the leaves creating a dappled effect on the tables.  The birds were singing and people were milling about chatting, holding tea cups and savoring the feelings of peace and delight even in a most difficult time. 

The moment was transformational and I knew that once again, Sandra, in her gentle wisdom had created for us the perfect setting in which to say goodbye.  It was classic Sandra and it reminded me that many of Sandra’s Sabbath Moments came when she sat down to have tea with God. 

And so in a little cemetery on a sunny Saturday morning we all shared tea with God giving thanks for Sandra’s life among us, for blessing us with such a beautiful creation in which to live and for reminding us that taking tea can be a form of prayer. 

I read this at the graveside:  “If you ask Zen people they will say tea is not something that you pour with unawareness and drink like any other drink.  It is not a drink, it is meditation; it is prayer.  So they listen to the kettle creating a melody, and in listening they become more silent, more alert.”  Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

In the silence God speaks and we listen. As we listened yesterday, God spoke in the silence and we all experienced a Sabbath Moment of peace and love. 

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved…For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.” Psalm 62:1-2; 5

Blessings in your silent moments,

Nancy

 

 

Sabbath Moment Verses

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

My husband was recently asked what his favorite scripture verse was and he said he couldn’t pick just one.   I imagine this is true of a lot of people who have come to love the voice, nuance and passion of the Word of God.  We have all turned to scripture at various moments in our lives in order to find peace, wisdom, discernment or prove a point. 

There are those passages that we hear oft-repeated at rituals and rites of passage that take us right back to the time and place where we heard them.   Most of us who have been to a memorial service have heard Psalm 23 offered as a scripture of comfort and 1 Corinthians 13.4-7 is a staple in many wedding ceremonies.  Some people create their own version of a red-letter Bible by underlining passages that have a deep meaning for them.

Without getting into the inerrancy argument, there is a dynamic quality to the Bible that speaks to each generation with truths and certainties that leave no doubt in the reader’s mind. 

I have my favorite verses and have to agree with my husband that it is hard to pick just one.  I love Psalm 23 not so much as a psalm about death but a psalm about life and God’s abiding presence.  Reading 2 Timothy 1.7 gives me courage and strength to carry on.  Philippians 4.4-9 are verses that inspire me and make me want to live a better life.  Luke 24.32 about hearts burning within when Jesus revealed the scriptures to the grieving men on the road to Emmaus reminds me how much I love the scriptures and how many heart burns within, too.  And Deuteronomy 30.19 describes God as a life-giving God calling me to choose life each day.  And Jeremiah 31.31, Ecclesiastes 3.1ff, John 3.16, Luke 2.19, 1 John 4.7 and, and, and…well you get the point. There are so many key verses in my life that I turn to over and over.

What about you?   Do you have a favorite? Or, are you like me with many favorites? 

This week for your Sabbath Moments spend time reading and reflecting on a favorite verse or passage of your own.  Let God speak to you through the Word, or let the Word take you to the time and place you need to revisit, or find a new verse that lights up your heart and makes it burn within you with love and joy.

“Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life”  Philip P. Bliss

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”  Isaiah 40.8

Happy Reading,

Nancy

 

Sabbath Moments And Compassion

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Once again we are reeling from a tragedy that tears our hearts open as we think of the children who were in the path of that EF5 tornado on Monday.  The devastation is beyond comprehension as is the power of a storm two miles wide with two hundred mile an hour winds pounding a community for almost 40 minutes.  I cannot wrap my head around it.

From Aurora to Sandy Hook to Boston to Moore and a number of other horrendous events that took innocent lives, we wonder why is this happening?  Discussion and debate has concentrated on everything from gun control to mental health care to climate change to terrorism and immigration.  And although these are all issues that need our attention, I wonder if there isn’t a bigger issue and learning in all these events.

Each of these events has brought about untold stories of heroism and compassion, of sacrifice and sharing, of kindness and doing the next right thing.  We are better people in a crisis.  We respond without asking about income levels, immigration status, color of skin or gender.  We respond to the employed and unemployed the same way.  We act whether the person is on food stamps or not.  We care about the loss of a child despite ethnic background.  In our hearts we care and we act because it is the right thing to do.

I can’t help but wonder how much of our current national crises would be alleviated if we lived out of a sense of compassion, care and concern to do the next right thing for others.  So much of our current divisiveness stems from a “what’s in it for me attitude”, “my rights”, “my money”, “my neighborhood”,”my language”, “my country”.  There are a lot of “my’s” that seem to stir up constant debate and argument and only tend to exacerbate the problem rather than finding solutions.

And, yet, in a crisis like the one in Moore, OK, the “my’s” leave our vocabulary and “we” and “us” and “in this together” replace the “my’s”.  What would happen if we started from the point of we or us or in this together on each issue?  What would happen if we actually took literally the biblical commandments to love one another, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to give of ourselves and the extreme biblical statement of to share all things in common so no one goes without?

God never promised us ease or wealth.  God never commanded us to ignore the needs of those around us unless there was a tragedy.  God never suggested we were in this life for ourselves.    And sometimes we act as if these are the only things that really matter

There is a possibility that spending time in Sabbath Moments can lull us into thinking that the focus is on us, our needs and how God responds to us.  However, there is more to Sabbath Moments than just our feeling good that God loves us.  They also have the potential of showing us that God has been trying to teach us for thousands of years how to be in community and what is the next right thing to do for our neighbor.  Every day.  Not just in a crisis. 

As you spend time in Sabbath Moments this week, explore with God and through God’s word what it means to live in community and be partners in this life with those around us.

“Their eyes are blinded, their hearts are hardened, So that they wouldn’t see with their eyes and perceive with their hearts, And turn to me, God, so I could heal them.  John 12.40-41 The Message

All the Lord’s followers often met together, and they shared everything they had.  They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it.  Acts 2.44-45 CEV

Blessings,

Nancy

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