Holy Labor

A rector’s notes article, August 19, 2019

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.

While Labor Day may now simply mark the end of summer with one last long weekend before football and cooler temperatures dominate the calendar, it is important to remember what Labor Day stands for. Labor Day honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the development, growth, endurance, strength, security, prosperity, productivity, laws, sustainability, persistence, structure, and well-being of the country. Labor Day is founded on the idea that the workers of this country who have been willing to speak up and speak out for just treatment and a better way of life for all who labor are worth honoring for the trials and challenges they faced in securing a better work environment for us all.

It is important that we also recognize the reality that our labors are not simply our jobs that exist in the 9 to 5 world that we (supposedly) operate within. The jobs, careers, vocations that we put much of our lives into, inform and influence the other elements of our lives and have a real impact on who we are as people and how we interact with the world.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget (or it’s hard to see) that being a Christian also influences the work that we do. While we may not (regularly) evangelize in our jobs due to real or perceived boundaries, that does not mean that the way we go about our work is not influenced by our identity as a Christian. It is important to recognize this reality and to recognize that all of the work we do is holy, when we do it first from a place of faith and belief in following in the way of Jesus.

On Sunday September 1st, we will join in a special service with two unique but united focuses. We will join with churches the world over, Anglican, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, in marking the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation. And, here at St. Stephen’s, we will offer a special offering of praise and thanksgiving for all the labors that we do here in our community. During the offertory, you will be invited to bring a symbol of your labor forward, to place it on the altar, and to have it blessed, marking your labors as holy. I hope that you will join us in this special offering.

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