Posted by: morgan1965 | September 5, 2010

Labor Day

Labor Day is an annual observance that is about much more than a day off from work. It is a celebration of the many vocations that are pursued by American workers. On Labor Day, it is appropriate to honor our workers and express our thanks to them for their labor that makes America what it is today. We, however, do realize that currently there are more people who are unemployed than usual. Our prayer is that there will be more employment opportunities in the near future.

I am reminded of the hymn, “Work, for the Night is Coming” which I remember hearing sung during my teenage years. This hymn, composed by Annie L. Coghill (1836-1907), was included in the 1939 edition of “The Methodist Hymnal” [page 291]. Coghill wrote this hymn in 1854 when she was 18 years old. Consider the words of the hymn:

Work for the Night is Coming

“Work, for the night is coming,
Work, through the morning hours,
Work, while the dew is sparkling,
Work, ‘mid springing flowers,
Work, when the day grows brighter,
Work, in the glowing sun,
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.
Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the sunny noon,
Fill brightest hours with labor,
Rest comes sure and soon.
Give every flying minute,
Something to keep in store,
Work, for the night is coming,
When man works no more.

Work, for the night is coming,
Under the sunset skies,
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work, for daylight flies.
Work ’til the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more,
Work, while the night is darkening,
When man’s work is o’er.”

This is a work song that has a scriptural basis.

In John 9:4 we read these words from Jesus: “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” As pilgrim disciples who are following Jesus Christ and we are called to do the work that has been given to us. In the United Methodist Church, our mission or our work is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Jesus went about preaching, teaching and healing. He did God’s work without reservation.

As we go about doing our daily work in the workplace, we should remember that it is important to let people see Christ in us – attitudes and behavior. As pilgrim disciples, other people need to see our discipleship in a tangible way. We must be faithful in our daily work and our discipleship.

Jesus expressed a sense of urgency regarding his ministry. “Night is coming when no one can work.”

The hymn, “Work, for the Night is Coming,” has both practical and theological implications. John Wesley in his “Historic Questions” [“The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2008,” p. 246] raises some cogent questions about our work. Question 17 asks: “Are you determined to employ all your time in the work of God?” In addition, Wesley said, “never be unemployed;” “never be triflingly employed.” Wesley, himself, was not afraid of work, especially the Lord’s work.

As we observe “Labor Day” I invite you to think about your work, do your work and live your work as a faithful pilgrim discipleship.

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