A Prayer for Labor Day
Several years ago, Meghan and I wanted a short driving vacation to a place we’ve never been. We scheduled our trip for the long Labor Day weekend plus a few extra days and decided to head out to see Niagara Falls and Toronto. We figured Toronto would be quieter on the holiday than the Falls so we started our trip there. We were surprised to learn that Labour Day (as Canadians call it) is a big deal in Toronto. Turns out ” Labour Day has its roots in an 1872 printers’ strike in Toronto. Fighting for a nine-hour work day, the strikers’ victory was a major milestone in the changing relations between Canadian workers and their government.”(Canadian Encyclopedia). So there is a huge Macy Thanksgiving Day size parade, everything shuts down for celebration. We were unsuccessful in avoiding the crowds, but had a great time on the trip.
As United Methodists our Social Creed, reminds us that “We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others and in the protection of their welfare in so doing; in the rights to property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and responsible consumption; and in the elimination of economic and social distress.” We draw this from the stories of workers in the Bible: everything from the contact for wages between Jacob and Laban (Gen. 29) oppression of the Israelites making bricks in Egypt (Ex 1:10-14) and to Jesus words about laborers in the vineyard (Mt. 20) to Paul’s comments on the dignity of work (Col 3:23).
Our work – whether we are long retired, still at it, or trying to figure it out- is meant to bring purpose and fulfilment to our lives and dignity to our world. This Labor Day, I pray you might find rest from your Labors whatever they may be and offer this prayer from Saint Sophia Catholic Church: