|2016 Labor Sunday Reflection
- Beatitudes for Workers
- Liturgy for a Labor Sunday service
- Prayers of Thanksgiving
- A Prayer for Workers
- A Responsive Prayer for Justice
- Calls to Worship
- Prayers of Confession
- Hymns for Labor Sunday
- Intercessory Prayer for Economic Justice
- Reflections and Sermon Seeds
Beatitudes for Workers
(a responsive reading or prayer)
Voice I Blessed are you poor who have no work or too little income.
Voice II God has promised: yours is the kingdom of heaven.
Voice I Blessed are you who are hungry now.
Voice II God has promised: you shall be filled.
Voice I Blessed are you who weep over unpaid bills, the loss of a job, or your children’s lack of opportunities.
Voice II God has promised: you shall be comforted, you shall laugh.
Voice I Blessed are you who are merciful.
Voice II God has promised: you shall receive mercy.
Voice I Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for justice.
Voice II God has promised: you shall be filled.
All The time is surely coming when God’s justice and peace shall reign throughout the land. Thanks be to God.
(Based on Matthew 5:3-6 and Luke 6: 20-21)
Liturgy for a Labor Sunday service
by Rev. Ed Middleton, First Community Church of Dallas, UCC
Prayers of Thanksgiving
Prayer #1: Thanks for Abundance
by Mari Castellanos, Policy Advocate, Justice and Witness Ministries, UCC.
God of Grace, you have gifted us with a world of abundance; a land of plenty; a country where all can have enough. We come before you this day to thank you for this prosperity and to repent from our apparent inability to share this wealth. God, we declare our own complicity in systems that sustain some of us, while forsaking many others. And we come before you to seek your forgiveness, even as we pray for your justice.
Righteous God, you hear the cry of the poor. You listen to those who do without, while so many spend recklessly and our leaders invest the wealth of the nation in instruments of destruction.
Be with us this day Lord. Hear our prayers. Touch our hearts that we may be faithful witnesses and effective voices for justice. God of mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.
Prayer #2: Thanks, and Forgive Us
Loving and generous God, you are the font of every blessing, the source of all we have. Your breath gives us life, your love gives us courage and strength, healing and compassion. You care for us like a loving parent and feed our spirits, our minds, and our bodies. We thank you for your abundance given freely to all.
But God, forgive us for wanting more, even when we have more than we need. Create in us new hearts to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. Help us to know that our abundance is for others’ needs. Great Teacher, write your law on our hearts: God’s abundance is enough for all if we share.
A Prayer for Workers
Loving, Working God,
On this Sunday we ask your special blessing on all people who labor, either for pay or as volunteers, in jobs or at school, in the workplace or at home, in the U.S. and around the world.
We especially pray for your blessings on workers who do not have jobs and for those whose inadequate pay does not allow them to live the full life you intend for each of us.
Creator God, help us to build a new world in the midst of the old.
A world where all workers are valued.
A world where those who clean houses are also able to buy houses to live in.
A world where those who grow food can also afford to eat their fill.
A world where those who serve and care for others are, themselves, also served and cared for.
We pray for the coming of a world where all workers everywhere share in the abundance that you have given us.
We ask these things knowing that you give us the courage and strength to live out our faith in the workplace and the marketplace, as well as in the sanctuary.
A Responsive Prayer for Justice
by Rebecca Sutton, Program Coordinator of Global Women’s Exchange. This prayer was developed for the NY State Labor-Religion Coalition’s seventh annual 40-hour fast. It was also part of Prayers for a Just Economy, a prayer service calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage held in Washington, DC, July 24, 2013.
Pray for those who are hungry.
Pray harder for those who will not feed them.
Pray for those who struggle each week to pay their bills.
Pray harder for the wealthy who do not care.
Pray for those who are homeless.
Pray harder for those who deny them shelter.
Pray for the sick and lonely.
Pray harder for those who will not give them comfort.
Pray for those who cry out for dignity.
Pray harder for those who will not listen.
Pray for those oppressed by unjust wages.
Pray harder for those who exploit them.
Pray for those who bear the yoke of prejudice.
Pray harder for those who discriminate against them.
Pray for those whose basic needs are denied.
Pray harder for public officials who cater to the greedy and ignore those bound unjustly. Amen.
Calls to Worship
Call to Worship #1
For one voice or unison voices:
Worker God, whose hands built the earth, molded our bodies, and sowed the stars across the sky, we gather in your presence this morning with praise and thanksgiving for your mighty deeds. Meet us here, Worker God; strengthen our hearts and our hands to work with you in the building of a world filled with justice and peace.
Call to Worship #2
For reading responsively:
One Voice: Our God is an awesome God who breathed into emptiness and created all that is.
Many Voices:With love and care, God shaped the world in all its diversity with mountains and valleys, rivers and deserts, and people of all colors and sizes.
One Voice: And threading through it all are beautiful dreams of justice, compassion, liberation, and peace.
Many Voices:O God, creator of our past, our present, and our future, we thank you for the many blessings you bestow on us each moment.
One Voice: Be with us now. Draw near to us as we draw near to you.
Many Voices: Lead us in paths of righteousness. Fill our hearts with compassion and a thirst for justice. Teach us to be co-creators, with You, of a world where all belong and share in the abundance you have given us.
All: Praise be to God.
Call to Worship #3
One: God of Life,
All:you are as near to us as our breath.
One: Touch our eyes,
All:that we may see you in one another.
One:Open our ears,
All:that we may hear your voice in the cries of the oppressed.
One: Enter our hearts,
All: that we may be filled with your love toward all people.
One: Come, O God of life and breath and wholeness.
All: Be with us now. Show us the way to new life and grant us the courage to be people of your Way.
Prayers of Confession
Prayer of Confession #1 (note: some of this language parallels that of the Prayer for Workers, above)
Call to Confession: On this Labor Day Sunday let us, in a special way, lift up all people who labor, either for pay or as volunteers, in jobs or at school, at home or in the workplace, in the U.S. and around the world.
Unison Prayer of Confession: We are workers, God, just like you. But we confess that our actions do not always affirm and honor each other. Our work is not always done in a spirit that is pleasing to you. We confess that, on some occasions, we have blindly bought goods made by people who are paid too little or work in unsafe conditions. We admit that we have failed to end an unjust system in which some workers have jobs that provide good wages and benefits while others may have no job, or one that pays little and provides few benefits.
Creator God, help us to be your people, working for a world where all workers are valued. A world where those who clean houses are also able to buy houses to live in. A world where those who grow food can also afford to eat their fill. And one where those who serve and care for others — in stores, schools, hotels, restaurants, nursing homes, and many other places — are, themselves, also served and cared for. It will be a world where all workers everywhere share in the abundance that you have given us.
Words of Assurance : Our God is a God of grace and transformation. When we ask, God gives us the courage and strength to live out our faith in the workplace and the marketplace, as well as in the sanctuary.
Prayer of Confession #2
Creator God, you made us to be neighbors, members of one family blessed with great diversity. You created us to be helpers and friends to one another, entrusting to us your justice and your joy. Yet we have denied justice and joy to many, creating worlds of poverty, pain, lost opportunities, and absence of hope. In so many ways, we break each other’s hearts. Still, you do not reject us. We ask your forgiveness and pray to be transformed.
Brief period of silence
Loving God, you restore us to each other and to you, mending our hearts and repairing the world. Through the power of your Spirit, you shape us to be for others what Christ is for us: pardon and peace, new life and blessing. We give you thanks for your love, forgiveness, and constant presence. Amen.
Hymns for Labor Sunday
Page numbers refer to the New Century Hymnal
O Grant Us, God, a Little Space #516
Come Labor On # 532
Take My Gifts #562
When Israel Was in Egypt Land #572
In Egypt Under Pharaoh #574
O for a World #575
Let Justice Flow Like Streams #588
Spirit of Jesus, If I Love My Neighbor #590
We Would be Building # 607
Hymns of Justice and Peace by Jann Aldredge-Clanton
Intercessory Prayer for Economic Justice
This is one part of Prayers for a Just Economy, a Prayer Service calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage held in Washington, DC, July 24, 2013.
Let our prayers surround those who are struggling on the economic margins:
The ones who have not shared in the great abundance that God has entrusted to our care;
The ones who have been left behind by the so-called economic recovery;
The ones who are unemployed or underemployed; and
The ones who are unjustly employed, working hard and yet living in poverty.
And let us pray for all those caught up in the workings of our unjust economic system — the workers, the managers, the owners, the policy-makers and the consumers – all of us have a responsibility to help create a faithful economy that values work and honors the dignity of all workers.
Hear now our prayers O God:
We pray today for all those who are seeking employment, those facing a very difficult and uncertain future whether they are experiencing joblessness for the first time today or are among the millions of the long-term unemployed. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray today for those who are working in low-wage jobs yet remain trapped in poverty — workers who need fair wages, respect and dignity in their workplace. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for children whose parents must work long hours in hard jobs just to afford shelter, food and clothing. And we pray for the moms, dads and family members who struggle with the difficult choice of working long hours and making long commutes, or spending more time with their children, to be able to tuck them into bed each night and see them off to school in the morning. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for those who labor in the fields to provide us food each day. For the farm workers who too often work beneath the hot sun without shade and in the deadly heat without water and who do not even make sufficient wages to buy the food they are harvesting. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray today for our brothers and sisters who work in the shadow of a broken and unjust immigration system – workers who face discrimination and exploitation and whose rights are too often denied through intimidation and threaten deportation. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for all those who labor in restaurants and earn as little as $2.13 per hour – the ‘tipped wage’ which has not been raised in twenty-two years. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for ethical employers who share fairly the earnings of their businesses with all their workers; we pray for those who pay living wages and provide benefits sufficient for workers to support themselves and their families. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for those employers who have not yet learned to value their workers or recognize their inherent dignity. We pray for CEOs and managers who have hoarded riches and yet denied fair wages to their employees. We pray, God, that you might turn their hearts of stone into hearts of compassion. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for our President that he might use the power of his office to guarantee that all workers on federal property are paid a living wage. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for all our elected leaders that they might place our brothers and sisters struggling on the margins at the very center of their deliberations. We pray that they will support policies that create good jobs with living wages. We pray that Congress will increase the minimum wage so that no one again would be forced to work full-time and still live in poverty. God of justice, hear our prayer
And finally, we pray that we, members of your faithful community, might use our voices and our resources to build a just economy: an economy of shared prosperity where workers earn living wages and all people live lives of dignity. God of justice, hear our prayer.
God of Justice – we lift up all these prayers to you in the knowledge that you are already at work amid the brokenness of our economic system and that you invite each of us to be a part of your holy work of justice. God we offer to you these prayers today – both spoken aloud and those in our hearts – in the hope that together we might be the people you have called us to be, reflecting your compassion, mercy and justice in all that we do. In your many holy names we pray – Amen.