Laborers and Laboring as Unto the Lord
Labor Day 2011
From its roots in the trade and labor unions of the early 1880s as a tribute to the every day worker, Labor Day's holiday observance has evolved to where today it's the unofficial end of summer and its plethora of warm weather activities.
One last picnic, trip to the beach, or pitched tent in the great outdoor before green leaves take on the rusted glow of autumn. And lest risking a fashion faux pas--no more white purse or slacks past September 5, either!
Oregon was the first state legalizing a holiday in honor of workers, doing so in 1887. Seven years later Congress followed suit nationally by declaring the first Monday of each September a legal holiday in observance of Labor Day.
And under God's gracious and merciful providence--and borne by our nation's backbone, the American workforce--the United States achieved the greatest productivity and resultant highest standard of living the world has ever known.
Which is all now precariously teetering on the edge of total collapse. National uncertainty, much as ants or wasps, will be showing up as the uninvited guest to backyard barbecues this Labor Day.
But the wobbly economy of growing unemployment, declining productivity, and the unfathomably ballooning debt is the least of America's problems. At a period in our nation's history when we should be calling on and returning to follow God the most, our country as a whole is increasingly treating the Lord of All as some uninvited pest needing to be permanently shooed from our lives.
Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount, "But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (Matthew 7:26-27).
All of which underlines the real heart and core of celebrating workers and their work, particularly in the greater-than eternal economy of God's full kingdom to come, "That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe" (1 Timothy 4:10).
Unlike 401(k) portfolios that go up in smoke or hard-earned homes that vanish in a pen stroke at foreclosure, God's promise to those who labor with and for Him is unshakeable. The fruit of their labor is deposited untouchable in heaven's treasuries ahead of them where, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them" (Revelation 14:13).