The Sabbath in Today’s Salvation Army
There seem to be decades of silence as it concerns the subject of Sabbath keeping in Army publications. Articles addressing today’s non-stop lifestyle and its results on the spirit, soul and body are beginning to find their way into Army magazines. In his article Give It A Rest, Reclaiming the Sabbath for Modern Times (The War Cry, November 20, 2010) Victor Parachin speaks of a difficulty we have in, first of all giving ourselves permission to rest, and then to reserve one entire day a week for rest, renewal and refreshment and encourages the idea of mini Sabbath spaces in the weekly life of the busiest person. “A weekly break from tasks will make you a better spouse, friend, family member, colleague, neighbor, citizen.” Parachin shares timely advice in creating a rhythm of Sabbath rest:
• Begin by giving yourself permission to rest.
• Understand what it means to keep a Sabbath day (a break from routine, expectations, competition, consumerism and being in control”.
• Plan ahead.
• Make it a family affair
• Look for the benefits
• Be prepared for resistance.
Major Bruce Powers in his article Can You Remember A Sabbath? (The Officer, August 2000) provides background to the two dominant biblical explanations of Sabbath found in Exodus 20:8 and Deuteronomy 5:15, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” The author shares that historically, God’s shalom is not fundamentally marked by peace as in the absence of something (war, stress, noise, anxiety), but the presence of something – well being which embraces life ‘as it should be’. He states that the creation story views work and rest of equal value. These verses must not be viewed as a proscription, but a prescription. It calls us to do, rather than avoid.
Major Powers adds, “This call to embrace a virtuous life in the hurly-burly of the daily grind follows hard on the primary promise, ‘The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus
The article concludes with verses from the New Testament that should be a part of the rhythm of Sabbath keeping, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”. Major Powers adds, “This call to embrace a virtuous life in the hurly-burly of the daily grind follows hard on the primary promise, ‘The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus; (4:7)
Written by Major Lauren Hodgson, Spiritual Life Development Department