"Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!" - Psalm 90:17
Our church and many of its leaders have been supporters of the labor movement over the years. We have supported efforts to insure that laborers were treated with respect and paid fairly. We have backed the right of workers to collective bargaining.
We should continue to support these values and policies. We should recognize the value of unions both for their members and as a counterbalance to other powerful interests in the arenas of politics and policy. And we should fairly compensate those who work for the church.
But we should not hesitate to call unions to reform and renewal where it is needed. Some unions that began as justice movements have become protect-the-status-quo organizations. When that happens, unions have forgotten their own story.
Of course, when it comes to forgetting your story, we in the church have a few things to own up to ourselves. The church, too, has been guilty of forgetting that our calling is to serve Christ and his Realm and instead have served ourselves.
Labor Day also reminds us how many people today have no work at all. This is really, really bad, and I wish we were a lot more concerned about it than we seem to be. It is bad because a job not only allows a person to support themselves and their family, but because work really means so much more. Work often brings with it a role and an identity. Moreover, our work is a source of many of our most important relationships. That's a lot to lose.
It's a good day to honor and say thanks to everyone who serves the common good by their labor. And to remember with prayers of intercession and action those who are without work and all that a job means in our lives.
Thank you, God, for work to do; for useful tasks that need study and strength; for the comradeship of labor; and for exchanges of good humor and encouragement. And, hear our prayers, we ask, for those who don't have a job, who may have about given up hope. Sustain and uphold them and guide us in creating a society where everyone has a chance to contribute. Amen.
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.