There is a question that stays with us throughout our lives. While phrased in different ways, it is still asking the same thing.
What will he/she be when they grow up? What are you going to be when you are all grown up? What do you do for a living? What are you doing with yourself these days? What will you do in retirement? What did they do in life?
What labor will you do, are you doing, or did you do? This question bears consideration on the Labor Day weekend.
Yes, somehow summer ran out, and now it is Labor Day. Let's forget for a moment that we must put away the summer clothes, the white shoes and the seersucker suits, and focus instead on the true meaning of this event in September.
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement, and it is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Through the years, the nation has given increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During that year four more states - Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York - created a Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. [http://www.dol.gov/laborday/history.htm]
Surprise! It was not created as a holiday to mark the beginning of fall. It was a long weekend to celebrate the contributions made through the labor of the workforce. Doesn't sound so exciting anymore, does it? In its early days parades,speeches, and events showcased the power of the American workforce; no job was too insignificant.
I've been thinking. What of our labor for the Kingdom of God is there that we need to celebrate? Have there been contributions from us as clergy that have helped strength, prosperity and well-being of the community to take place? Is our work all about us (what we do?) or is it about our call from Almighty God? Do our endless hours of meetings, our visits in the homes and hospitals, our flowing and dry moments over so many sermons, and our stolen times for prayer and discernment make headway into God's kingdom?
I believe that every moment spent in the labor of love for our call, every moment held in faith believing that God is able, and every moment of sacrifice shared brings the kingdom of God closer to a reality. I believe our labor is not in vain.
I wish we could have a parade for each of you this weekend. I wish there were speeches and balloons floating all over about how awesome is your gift of work for God. I wish our churches would take a moment to say to each of you, "Well done, pastor!" No, not as a Hallmark holiday or because a law passed in 1894, but because you are doing great things for God's People, the Body of Christ.
I'm grateful and proud of all you do, my friends. Keep up the great work and never doubt that it is appreciated.
Working together till eternity,