Lesson 9: A Modern Sabbath Lifestyle

Work Brings Freedom sign at AuschwitzAs I was writing these lessons, my thoughts continually returned to the Company of Kirkridge. This small, mostly lay Christian community gathered people from across the Northeast twice a year to support one another. At one of those meetings, we broke into small groups to update our discipline. Gathering as one, we compiled the following. It could certainly serve as a modern Sabbath lifestyle.

LIFESTYLE OF THE COMPANY AT KIRKRIDGE

1. Live well below your economic peers
2. Live as tenants of a small fragile planet
3. Pay attention to beauty
4. Be generous
5. Avoid waste
6. Do nothing from prestige alone
7. De-link from the world’s value systems
8. Make a real, contemporary, Christian community your reference point.
9. Choose productive, non-violent vocations
10. Practice “fasting” or reducing one’s needs or wants.

It is easy to respond to every one of these statements with, “Yes, but did you ever consider,” and then come up with something that is obviously true. Well, really half true.
Much of our current gridlock results from people taking a stand on a half-truth and stubbornly refusing to converse with people who take a different position, often on another half-truth.

One reason for the Sabbath is to see half-truths for what they are and to work together for the whole truth. Let me give some examples of the half-truths that are being thrown around as wisdom in our present society: “Our biggest problem is lack of jobs,” “You can’t do anything without money,” “Nobody can really help anyone else,” “Being a leader, not a follower, is what is really important,” “You can do anything you want with the proper education and motivation,” “The only way to fight violence is violence,” “Everyone has their price,” “Work is freedom.” I saved the last for the end of the list, because it makes the point so well. Remember it is what the Nazis posted over the gate at Auschwitz.

As #7 indicates, the Company saw Christianity as a counter-cultural movement. To follow Christ means delinking from the world’s value systems. Or as St. Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Observing the Sabbath enables us to renew our minds. It inspires us never to settle for half-truths but instead to allow ourselves to be challenged continually by the whole Truth. Each item on the company’s list is worth pondering.

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  1. Susan says:

    My Yes, but question is, Whatever happened to The Company? Should one of the statements have been Evangelize lest we disappear? Who gets to write the gospel of The Company?
    Sorry, my question became three…

  2. Fritz Foltz says:

    Ah yes. As usual, Susan makes a good point. For all its contributions, the Company is slowly fading away as its members age and disappear. Perhaps this illustrates the modern obsession with the new that finds little of interest in the past.

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