Thoughts Concerning Violence and Sabbath


In the process of practicing a Daily Office and thinking about the issue of spiritual formation both individually and corporately, the idea of including a sabbath has come to the forefront.  As a consumerist culture we North Americans might be the busiest people on the planet and simple observation would indicate that life is not slowing down, but indeed gaining momentum. Life’s trajectory often is like a snowball rolling down hill going faster and getting larger.  I believe more than ever, we who identify ourselves as Christ-followers ought to seriously consider implementing sabbaths into our daily life rhythms.  

Thomas Merton suggests that when we are busier than what God requires we do violence to ourselves:

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence. . . . activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.  To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone and everything, is to succumb to violence. . .  It kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful. — Confessions of a Guilty Bystander, p.86.

This gives rise to a new consideration.  As a Christ-follower I know I am called to eschew violence.  In the past I’ve framed violence as something out there somewhere — not in my realm and rhythm of life. Something that others do, not me! But now violence framed in this new paradigm confronts me with a new reality; that when we find our schedules jammed packed or even double and triple booked we perpetrate violence upon ourselves and even on those around us.  

Maybe one of the ways we perpetrate this violence is by being so preoccupied with busyness that we find ourselves unable to love in and through the love of Christ.  Is it possible to live for Christ effectively and simultaneously be caught up in the constant busyness and hurry of life?  How might initiating a sabbath, or sabbaths in our daily and weekly routines allow for a richer and deeper relationship with the One who Himself requires a sabbath rest?

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