Labor Day. When I was a kid, I knew it was a holiday that occurred before the first day of school. . . a kind of last-hurrah as summer came to an end. I clearly remember one Labor Day “holiday” where my dad had me helping to weed the garden, along with washing and waxing the car. In answer to my protests he simply said, “It’s Labor Day. . . now get back to your labors!” A funny guy he was.
Like many holidays, Labor Day has become more of an excuse for cook-outs and picnics than a day in which we really focus that for which it was originally established. It began way back in 1882 as a way to recognize and celebrate the contributions of the American laborer.
In so many ways, our current cultural ethos diminishes the value of those whose sweat and toil keep our nation moving. . . service workers, construction crews, truck-drivers, sanitation workers, butchers, bakers, and candle-stick makers. We need to remember that in God’s economy, there is equal dignity and value in all vocations. . . none more-than or less-than another. All work matters to God as we fulfill the Creation Mandate to be fruitful, to multiply, to cultivate the earth by imaging Him. John Calvin said it this way: “There is no work, however vile or sordid, that does not glisten before God.”
And so on this Labor Day, let’s thank God for the value and dignity of all work and of all workers. Let us take our work seriously as it images God and is an occasion for worship.
From the Book of Common Prayer: Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.