Labor Day - Monday Musing, September 7, 2021
Labor Day. In 1894 a federal holiday was established on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers in our country.
The labor market looks far different today than the 19th century – fewer workers are employed in the union-dominated manufacturing sector, for example, which has meant fewer union workers. Many labor jobs have moved oversees, and more and more American workers are employed in white collar positions. And with the current global pandemic, economists estimate that 1 in 5 workers have lost their jobs since the beginning of the year. With all these notable changes since the holiday was created, should we re-think our Labor Day holiday?
Today on this unofficial end of summer, are we celebrating work of all sorts, whether it is from the agricultural, manufacturing, or service industries? What about those whose work had not been created or imagined at the time the holiday came into being – information technologies or telecommunications, for example? How about those who are not employed (if we define work as the exchange of money for labor) – stay-at-home parents, disabled, infirmed, or retirees?
What if this Labor Day 2020, we celebrated a re-imagined definition of work, defining it more broadly to be that which makes a difference in the lives of others? Let us remember these words from Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew: “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (5:13-16 The Message)
Are we spectators in this kind of “work” that God calls us, or are we active participants, letting our light shine? That’s the kind of work I want to celebrate today. I invite you to join me.