Liturgy for a Labor Sunday Service

Written by Rev. Ed Middleton, pastor of First Community Church of Dallas, UCC, and an activist for workers’ justice

One:     We come to worship a God whom we have experienced as compassion.

All:        We have grown to trust this God in both the joyful and hard places of life.

One:     We come to worship and know that something is required of us, that we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

All:        We come accepting both the compassion and call to a higher righteousness.

One:     We come on this day to remember that work matters to God, workers matter to God, and wages matter to God.

All:        We come to sing, pray, hear the spoken word and encounter the Living Word that we might be shaped by all that matters to our Creator God.

One:     It’s time to put away smugness, clichés, and worn out self-serving political sound bites. It is time to get honest before God.

We find ourselves talking about fairness at the office, with students in the classroom, at family gatherings, and at other social engagements. We confess that our focus is usually upon what is fair for us. The injustice we want to have corrected is one which we perceive pertains to us. We are seldom concerned about the many injustices we choose not to see as we lead our lives.

We fail to think about the welfare of the sanitation workers coming down our alleys in the early morning hours. We don’t want to know that they are suffering due to the outsourcing of jobs by our local governments, how they work hard jobs for minimal wages, often without benefits.

We stand at the fast food counter and order foods processed by someone living on the margins of society, who is paid little and threatened often to work harder. We face the employee with whom we place our order and see them not as children of God deserving dignity and justice in the work place. Rather we choose not to fully see them at all. We’ve come to accept injustice and unfairness as a norm with which we can live.

Forgive us, O God, for we have settled for a system that does not reflect what you intend in your realm. We settle for talking heads who justify our ways of doing business, for political figures whose values are mostly unexamined lest they impact their ambitions. Sadly, we settle for what is convenient to us. Oh God, reshape us and give us a burning within so that simply “settling” will no longer rule our hearts and lives. Let it be, O Holy One, please let it be.

One:     What has been in the past does not have to define the future. God’s grace can transform us, will transform us. Receive this good news and move in a new direction.

One:     The witness of the holy writ is clear; to whom much is given, much is required. Let this truth settle upon us as a deeply held desire to love one another as God has loved us.

We commit ourselves and these offerings unto you, O God of grace and God of glory, that your will and ways may be manifested in our lives, within your assemblies, and spread forth that the powers that be might serve your purposes.

Now as you go from this place, go to fulfill God’s purposes that all may know of God’s love, and that by seeking justice and mercy for all of God’s people within our homes, neighborhoods, communities, cities, and nations, God’s realm will be seen, known, and experienced now and throughout the ages.