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

Posts tagged ‘sabbath moments’

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

 

 

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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

Sabbath Moments Moment

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Driving home the other day I found myself feeling lousy – that’s a medical term, you know!  My head was little achy, my back was a lot achy, my pulse seemed to be a bit faster than usual, my mood was borderline ornery and there were tears just behind my eyes.  And I had no idea why.  Ever feel like this?

It’s not my favorite feeling and usually I try to ignore it by keeping busy.  How about you?  However, as I walked through the door I realized that I had no excuse not to take a moment to settle my unsettling condition.  I had no other responsibilities vying for my time.  Supper was mine to make or not.    No one was there to ask questions about my day.  I was alone. 

And yet, old habits are hard to break because I jumped right in to making my supper so I could move to some other things I wanted to get done that night.  Keep moving seems to my default mode and it takes a lot for me to override that code etched in my brain.

Surprisingly, I took a step to break that habit.  I pushed the override button, stopped what I was doing, grabbed a cold glass of water (yes, it really was water) and went and sat on the porch.   The birds were singing, there was a gentle breeze blowing and I just sat there and soaked it up.  After some deep breaths, a few sips of water and a silent prayer of thanks for the beauty around me, began to feel my pulse rate slow down, my back relaxed and the headache began to ease.  I felt better.

As this sense of well-being began to wash over me I realized I had just taken a Sabbath Moment where the peace, calm and grace of God could restore my soul.  It was a moment when I realized how a spontaneous decision to relax can be as full of God as a planned Sabbath moment complete with Bible, journal, devotional and prayer beads! 

God is good in every moment and taking time to breathe in the breath of God is a most excellent way to take that goodness into your busy life.

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Don’t be afraid to take advantage of spontaneous Sabbath Moments and let God surprise you with a soul refreshment.

“Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up on wings as eagles.  They will run and not be weary.  They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40.31

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Moment Bright Spot

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

The other day I was in a less than perky mood.  You know what I mean?  It was just one of those days when I felt a bit off my game. If I were to pick a color to describe how I felt, it would be blah beige with an emphasis on blah.  Maybe it was because I had to go to physical therapy and I knew I would come out feeling worse than when I went in.  Or, maybe there was no reason and I just felt low.

As I was doing my exercises flat on my back stretching my quads or ham strings or some muscle that didn’t like it very much, I heard a voice calling out, “Hi Princess, how ya doin’ today, Beautiful?”  I turned to see a short, stout woman hugging my physical therapist.  She saw me look and said, “She’s my princess.  Isn’t she beautiful?”  Before I could answer her she was off to another office spreading her own type of healing as she mewed over an outfit or a hairdo or a smile.  She made the rounds greeting every one with a squeal of delight.

In spite of my foul mood, I found myself smiling as I felt the energy in the room increase.  Laughter escaped from my pursed lips as I listened to her chat with everyone.   Now, that would have been enough to lift my spirits at that moment, but as I stood up to finish my routine she said to my therapist “Isn’t she a pretty one? I couldn’t see her face before but now I think I’m looking at, oh what’s her name…that movie star who is blonde  now and looks so much better as a blonde.  You know who I mean?”

Ok, so now I am smiling wide and laughing.  (For all I know she could have meant Phyllis Diller but I chose not to go there). Turns out she meant Meryl Streep…what a hoot!  Who cares about her looks I just wish I had her talent.

At just the right time she came into my life and made me forget my ornery-ness. I breathed a silent prayer of thanksgiving for this angel in her Notre Dame baseball cap and sneakers stiff and limping through her exercises and exercising the joy of her heart which obviously was in great shape.   It was in a strange sort of way a Sabbath Moment moment.

Just like this woman with her perky perspective, Sabbath Moments also can lift me out of a foul mood and make me see what is around me in new ways.  Sabbath moments can leave me breathing a prayer of thanksgiving and send me on my way with a smile on my face and a new perspective to guide my thoughts.

How about you?  Does spending time with God improve your outlook on life?  Take time this week to find the joy in the moments as God comes to you in unexpected ways.  And, maybe, even spread a little joy yourself to the next person you meet along the way.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Hebrews 12.14-15

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 Frame of Mind

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I traveled back to Western New York this week to see friends and family and I accomplished that goal.  In the 8 days I was home I shared 11 meals with friends and family members I have not had a chance to see much of in the last 9 months.  It was great fun even if not so good for my waistline. 

And I had the wonderful opportunity to worship with my church on Sunday experiencing a rabbi leading our music portion of the service.  We sang Psalms in Hebrew, literally gathered around a table to share communion, clapped to old spirituals, and  listened as the Word of God came to life in our midst.  What a treat to use the language of the Jesus as part of our worship and to have a rabbi connecting us to the tradition of our Lord.  It was a glorious way to start my week and it felt like the Sabbath celebration continued throughout the week.

Have you ever had a week like this where the Sabbath joy just flowed from one day to the next?  I know for me it was the sharing of time, conversation and meals with people I know and love that contributed to that feeling.  And, yes, I will admit I didn’t accomplish all the tasks I wanted to get done on this trip home, but looking back I realized that those chores will always be there for me to finish.  For now it is good that the relationships that mean so much to me sustained me in a Sabbath frame of mind.

It was a gift I had not expected; and yet, isn’t that what Sabbath is?  A gift we did not expect that sustains our spirits and fills us with joy and thanksgiving that God would love us so much to provide such an opportunity each week or each day if we choose it.

“Praise our God! His deeds are wonderful, too marvelous to describe…Let every living creature praise the Lord.”

Psalm 150.2,6

Blessings,

Nancy

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