I trust that everyone is having a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend! As many of you know, Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. Often, this weekend is a nice time to finish those summer projects you’ve been putting off, enjoy some family time together with a barbeque, pull in the dock and close up the lake cabin or to just enjoy a long relaxing weekend at home. These are all good things and yet, over time, Labor Day has become somewhat separated from what is was originally intended to be.
The first Labor Day was celebrated on a Tuesday in New York City on September 5, 1882. It was originally designed to strengthen Labor unions, to have a public parade and to demonstrate for the rights of workers. Then, and only then, did they enjoy a picnic and a sort of afternoon off for workers. This gradually spread and, thanks to President Grover Cleveland, by 1894 it became the National Holiday we have today. Although there is still some argument as to who officially started this holiday, a Mr. Matthew Maguire or a Mr. Peter McGuire, both of whom were workers and heavily involved in various labor movements, this special day we call “Labor Day” has helped support worker’s right in what was the new, industrial world, and it became a way to celebrate our American achievements through labor.
From a Christian point of view, I believe Labor Day is also a time to thank God for the gift of work, of being able to support our families and of having the ability to cooperate in God’s “work” of creation. Although we sometimes like to complain when we have to get up in the morning and go to our job, we as believers in Christ, also realize that work is a blessing we share in God’s co-creative power. One of the first commandments in the Bible (ie. Genesis) was for Adam and Eve to care of “the Garden,” to work and to enjoy the benefits of their labor. The Book of Genesis also says, “God looked at all that he did and saw that it was very good.” Like God, we are reminded to celebrate all our accomplishments, and to be thankful for the gifts and abilities we have. May we never take for granted the gift and purpose of our work. Of course the celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday is what inspires and propels us on to continue the work of Christ. This too, is a labor of love in Christ! So, may we do all things with peace in mind and heart and soul with our God!