Posted by: morgan1965 | September 3, 2017

Labor Day’s Spiritual Dynamic

Labor Day is a traditional American holiday that is celebrated on the first Monday in September. Appropriately created by the labor movement, Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements and contributions of all American workers. Workers are the very fabric of our national economic strength and prosperity.

The word, labor, means work, especially hard work. Some synonyms for work are toil, exertion, industry, drudgery and effort. The process of childbirth is commonly known as labor. To labor means to work hard, or to make a great effort at doing something.

As we honor our workers, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. come to mind: “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man [woman] should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” This is a matter of human and spiritual pride. In the deepest sense, it is a spiritual matter.

There are many American workers, seen and unseen, known and unknown, honored and dishonored, paid and unpaid. One of America’s great workers is the homemaker. Consider the words of Maya Angelou:

“I’ve got the children to tend

The clothes to mend

The floor to mop

The food to shop

Then the chicken to fry

The baby to dry

I got the company to feed

The garden to weed

I’ve got shirts to press

The tots to dress

The can to be cut

I gotta clean up this hut

Then see about the sick

And the cotton to pick.”

So, we honor and celebrate all workers on Labor Day and every day.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a committed advocate for unions and the rights of workers. On April 3, 1968 King gave a speech to support the sanitation workers who were on strike for union recognition in Memphis, Tennessee. He was assassinated the very next day. King warned that slogans such as “right to work” could “rob us of our civil rights and job rights.” King today would support pay equity for women, fair wages for all workers, and equal job opportunities. He advocated for justice in all aspects of human life.

Work has both a material dimension and a spiritual dimension. When I was growing up, a song that was sung in my church was titled, “Work for the Night is Coming.”  It urged one to “Work, for the night is coming, when man’s work is done.” I later realized that the reference to work was more than one’s work on the paid job. Folks were singing about Kingdom work, the spiritual dimension of work. Jesus said: “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

The disciples of Jesus left their regular work to follow Jesus. In following Jesus, they began a new work in partnership with Jesus. They became evangelists, sharing the Good News. We too are in partnership with Jesus as we do the work of ministry and mission. Jesus declares that there is no time to waste, because there is work to do that must be done in the now. Remember, night is coming; so, we work while it is day. We follow the Light of Christ. It is Jesus Christ who offers salvation to humankind.

In this life, there is work to do in the name of Jesus. This work is kingdom work, the work of ministry and mission. The Christian church, therefore, has a charge to keep as we glorify God. We must work together as partners in ministry. Hurricane Harvey currently provides an opportunity for pilgrim disciples to work together as partners in ministry with flood victims in Texas and Louisiana. The response to the human condition is both material and spiritual.

Think about it!

As we consider both the material and spiritual dimensions of our labor, let us remember this prayer: “The things, good Lord, that we pray for, give us the grace to labor for.” Amen. (Thomas Moore, The UM Hymnal, #409)

 

 

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Responses

  1. A timely reminder about workers and the work we do!


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