May you lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.~ Colossians 1:10
COVID-19 mostly has brought bane, but for those with eyes to see, the pandemic has not been without blessing.
Early on in our struggle with COVID-19, as closures and lockdowns tightened their grip on daily living, the term “essential worker” entered our shared daily conversation. And, perhaps for the first time, we discovered the blessing of those whose indispensable labor supports the front lines of our consumer economy.
So, hopefully, we now count store clerks, letter carriers, meat packers, garbage collectors, truck and delivery drivers, public-transit workers, and a host of other previously underappreciated professions among the ranks of doctors, nurses, and other health-care providers as the real heroes of this crisis.
By the sweat of their brow, the entire hard-working lot has earned our respect and appreciation and thus deserve the honor and remembrance that Labor Day intends to provide.
Let’s face it – most of us take Labor Day for granted. It’s one of those ambiguous holidays that we know has something to do with workers and the labor leaders who fought and died for workplace safety, equality and justice.
But, for our practical purposes, Labor Day just symbolizes the end of summer – little more than a marker for moving from one season to the next and a reason for firing up the grill one last time before the fall leaves start turning color.
This year, let us return to the national holiday’s original purpose of recognizing workers and remembering the dignity of honest labor. We can start with those who are toiling under the most difficult circumstances to help us through the pandemic – often with low wages and little time off. Let us pray for them and for all whose honest work provides the very stuff of daily living:
Almighty God, whose grace-filled work created the world, you have so tightly linked our lives, one with another, that all we do affects all other lives for good and ill. So, guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone but for the common good. And, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers. Arouse our care and concern for those who are out of work, and lead each of us to holy places where our gifts and talents may be used for your always-good purposes. We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives, reigns and labors with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
While it’s tempting to spend time this Labor Day brooding over how miserable living through a pandemic has been, instead let an essential worker know that you wouldn’t be making it through these virus-laden days without him or her. And be generous in offering your thanks.
Stay safe, be well!
Related pastoral reflection: Many Gifts, Common Good