When I was a little girl growing up in Ohio, Labor Day marked the end of summer because, in those days, we kids didn’t return to school until after the holiday. We knew that fall was on the doorstep, with cooler weather and autumn colored leaves on the way. As children we felt a long way off from being workers ourselves and I don’t think many of us in the middle-class had a real clear understanding of the connection between our parents’ work and how their income provided the means for our lives. When we thought of the work we ourselves would like to do when we grew up, our choices were often not very realistic. In my case, the choices of a future career ranged from the fanciful—cowgirl—to the more practical—English teacher.
In the best of all worlds, employment would fit interests and abilities, and would be satisfying, safe, and fulfilling. Wages would be fair and would support living a balanced life in which a worker’s needs and those of her/his family were met. However, this has not been the way of the world or in our own country. And so Labor Day came into being in 1894 in the United States, created by the labor movement to celebrate American workers and their achievements which have helped build our country, and to raise awareness of conditions for workers that still need improvement.
I share with you this Christian response to Labor Day I like written by Bruce Epperly, “Labor Day, then, offers us a reminder and challenge to affirm the value of work, seek healthy workplace environments, and support opportunities for entrepreneurial adventure in the context of a just social safety net. On Labor Day, we give thanks for those whose efforts have led to workers’ rights and care for the least of these. And we can make a commitment to seek justice for all workers and balance the need for profitmaking with care for our society’s most vulnerable members.”
In closing, I invite you to join me in praying this psalm/prayer. “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ