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    Insights on Work

    November 15, 2019

    Eberhard Arnold

    Love is work: practical, strenuous work of muscle and mind, heart and soul. The kingdom of love, therefore, must be a kingdom of work. Work, truly unselfish work, animated by the spirit of brotherliness, will be the mark of the future, the character of the mankind to be. Work as spirit, work as living reality, such as we all have lost; work as dedication in enthusiastic love of togetherness – that is the fundamental character of the future. Joy in togetherness will show as joy in work.

    How infinitely remote present-day mankind is from work like this! And since today we have only a faint conception of the possibility of this common life, we will be troubled again and again by pessimism.

    But we do know that it is not some fantastic, unattainable future; on the contrary, it is the quiet reality of a church already emerging today.... Just this is the mystery of the emerging church, germinating and blossoming among us in secret – that we can live and work already now, here and everywhere, in the community of the Spirit.

    Dorothy Sayers

    The modern tendency seems to be to identify work with gainful employment; and this is, I maintain, the essential heresy.... The fallacy being that work is not the expression of man’s creative energy in the service of Society, but only something he does in order to obtain money and leisure.

    We urgently need a Christian doctrine of work, which shall provide, not only for proper conditions of employment, but also that the work shall be such as a man may do with his whole heart, and that he shall do it for the very work’s sake. But we cannot expect a sacramental attitude to work, while many people are forced, by our evil standard of values, to do work which is a spiritual degradation – a long series of financial trickeries, for example, or the manufacture of vulgar and useless trivialities.

    Gerard Manley Hopkins

    It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work. Smiting on an anvil, sawing a beam, whitewashing a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God some glory if being in his grace you do it as your duty. To go to communion worthily gives God great glory, but to take food in thankfulness and temperance gives him glory too. To lift up the hands in prayer gives God glory, but a man with a dungfork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, gives him glory too. He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they should. So then, my brethren, live.

    Sources: Eberhard Arnold (Modern Spiritual Masters), (Orbis, 2005), 121–122; Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos (Methuen, 1947), 68; Poems and Prose of Gerard Manley Hopkins, ed. W. H. Gardner (Penguin, 1953), 146.

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