In a few days we will be celebrating Labor Day, a national holiday that began in the 1800s. We don’t know for sure whether it was first proposed by Peter McGuire or Matthew Maguire, both union leaders, but the original purpose was “suggesting a day to honor those ‘who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold’” (The History of Labor Day, http://www.DOL.gov). While it began within labor unions, it quickly became a national holiday in the United States.
As a national holiday, I believe that on Labor Day we should recognize not only those workers who are in unions, but all those who labor to make this a great country in which to live.
For those who labor at home, whether mother, father, or grandparent, or other, thank you for your hard work, for being the strength of your household, so your children can learn how to contribute to our society as they grow. Thank you for making home a safe place where your family, and often your friends, can find laughter and solace, healing and strength because of your commitment.
For those who labor in offices, often doing the same mundane activities again and again, we thank you for finding meaning in your work and for doing it well. Those who are affected by your decisions and actions thank you for being part of their support system.
For those who work with children, whether teachers, babysitters, social workers, etc., we thank you for your commitment to children, to their education and growth. Thank you for the time you put in beyond 40 hours to be sure the message gets across. Thank you for recognizing each child as an individual and for giving each child a reason to learn and grow.
For those who work with our elderly, thank you for your compassion and care, for your kindness to those, once strong and virile, but no longer able to care for themselves. For those who deliver meals to individuals who can no longer cook for themselves and who drive them to doctor’s appointments when they can no longer drive alone, we thank you. For all you do for our elderly, we honor you.
For those who labor in factories and in fields, in garages and in warehouses, for those who are behind the scenes and not personally recognized for their work, we thank you for your labor, as you put things together, fill up boxes, unload and present these items to us. Thank you for helping us provide what is needed—and often wanted—for our homes and families.
I’m sure I am missing many others at this point, so thank you, every one who labors, for your dedication and your partnership. To you I dedicate this column and include these encouragements from the Scriptures.
When you aren’t sure your work means anything at all—
“What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and to do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in his toil—this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 9-13).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
When you would rather be doing “God’s work”—
“Obey your earthly masters with respect and fear and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does” (Ephesians 6:5-8).
When you are tired and think you cannot go on—
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
May you find rest for your body this Labor Day Weekend; may you find rest for your soul in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and most of all, may you find the joy in labor that comes from knowing God is working with you and in you, even in the ordinary times of life.
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church