The Year of the Sabbath

Simeon Stylites' contributes to the Christian Century

Reprinted from Christian Century

[Some of our readers who subscribe to The Chris­tian Century have noticed Simeon Stylites' contribu­tion in the March 24, 1954, issue. Appreciating its spirit, they have urged us to reprint it. This we are happy to do. Simeon Stylites is one of the keenest observers among our Methodist friends. He uses a pen name, and to get his points across couches his observations in humorous vein—a technique used even among the ancient Hebrew writers.

In complying with the suggestion to reprint this, we would emphasize to our readers that these are observations of a Methodist minister.—Editors.]

EDITOR The Christian Century:

SIR: The pastor of St. John's-by-the-Gas­ Station brought me a letter this week which he wrote to all the high leaders and their staffs at the General Headquarters of all the Churches. He wants you to send it, as he thinks you have a mimeograph machine and know all the addresses. He encloses stamps. Here is the letter:

"YOUR HIGHNESSES: Two things. First: Thank you for your devoted and inspiring leadership. You have kept us at work in season and out of season and we are grateful. You have been mighty men of battle in the Lord.

"Second: Don't you ever get tired of concoct­ing plans whereby every pastor and every church must do everything at exactly the same time and in the same way? How about making a place to stop and take a breath once in a while? As campaign follows campaign, as cru­sade succeeds crusade, as movement breathes down the neck of the movement that went before, we are afraid of being regimented to death. A piece of music for a brass band that does not leave room for the players of the trumpet and trombone to take a breath is im­possible to play. We hardly have room for a breath between agitations. One of my friends tells me that life in his church often seems like a nationwide toothbrush drill. Everybody brush his teeth at exactly 7:45 A.m.! All together now brush! If anyone brushes his teeth at 7:30 A.M. or 8 A.M. he is 'uncooperative.'

"So I am venturing to call your attention to a great idea, to be found where a number of great ideas are found, in the Bible. That is, the Year of the Sabbath. The general idea is: Every seven years, give us a rest. In more dignified language you will find it in Leviticus 25:

"'When you come into the land which I give you, the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its fruits; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. . . it shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.'

"You see, they knew the crops would be a lot larger and better if there was a spot of rest. Why not try it? It's in the Bible! Just think of what would happen if a church had a Year of the Sabbath, without any quotas or campaigns, and only one directive—Toys and girls, you are on your own. Get going!'

"If you strategists at G.H.Q. will do that, I will personally guarantee that the churches dur­ing that year of rest and freedom will have the best year since Francis Asbury and his horse, Trigger, started out circuit-riding."

So, please have this letter mimeographed and forward it to the proper people.

Yours,

Simeon Stylites.

[Francis Asbury was the first bishop of Ameri­can Methodism. He was a contemporary of John 'Wesley, and like the founder of the movement, he spent his time founding churches and preaching to great crowds.]


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Reprinted from Christian Century

May 1956

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