Our calling from God begins in the waters of Baptism and is lived out in a wide array of settings and relationships. Freed through the Gospel, we are to serve others through arenas of responsibility such as family, work, and community life. Although we continue to be ensnared in the ambiguities and sin of this world, our vocation is to seek what is good for people and the rest of creation in ways that glorify God and anticipate God’s promised future.
—ELCA social statement Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, page 7.
On this Labor Day, I have the privilege of sharing part of a Labor Day message that was sent out last Friday by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. Marking the Labor Day holiday and remembering essential workers in this season of pandemic, Bishop Eaton draws on the ELCA Social Statement Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All and invites us to “to seek what is good for people and the rest of creation in ways that glorify God and anticipate God’s promised future.”
“The origins of Labor Day, established as a federal holiday in 1894, lie in the labor movement’s persistent organizing for the rights and recognition of American workers. This year’s impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the heroics and faithfulness of the many we now know to be essential workers.
“While all workers are essential, especially during this pandemic, we give special thanks on this Labor Day for those workers who, despite challenges and dangers to their health, plant and harvest and deliver our food, keep store shelves stocked with essentials, nurture and teach our children, and care for the sick. In honor of their contributions to our country’s well-being, they deserve our support and accompaniment so they can do their jobs safely with dignity and respect.
“Our church’s social teaching reminds us that work is a way we serve God and our neighbor. The ELCA social statement Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All states: ‘In Genesis, work is to be a means through which basic needs might be met, as human beings till and keep the garden in which God has placed them (Genesis 2:15). Work is seen not as an end in itself, but as a means for sustaining humans and the rest of creation’ (page 8).
“Labor Day, like many holidays, marks the passage of time, the change of weather, the return to school, the end of the growing season. It also marks our eighth month of collectively facing the challenges of this time together. Dear church, we need to also acknowledge the extra labors these last months have required in what is turning out to be a marathon with a long way to go. The multiple hardships of this year have touched every one of us.
“As you take time to observe this year’s Labor Day, may you find time to rest and renew yourselves for the work ahead. As is stated in this church’s economic life social statement: ‘Our vocation is to seek what is good for people and the rest of creation in ways that glorify God and anticipate God’s promised future’ (page 7).”
Prayers from Evangelical Lutheran Worship:
Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ dignified our labor by sharing our toil. Guide us with your justice in the workplace, so that we may never value things above people, or surrender honor to love of gain or lust for power. Prosper all efforts to put an end to work that brings no joy, and teach us how to govern the ways of business to the harm of none and for the sake of the common good; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God of justice, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our wealth and resources that all people may find suitable and fulfilling employment and receive just payment for their labor; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessings to you, O people of Trinity. As we mark Labor Day 2020, may you be safe, may you be well, and may you be held in love.
It remains a privilege to serve as one of your pastors.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Robert Linstrom