Photo by Sebastián León Prado
Labor Day emerged in the late 1800s because as capitalism was maturing, the work of laborers was being devalued at an increasing rate. While we might think that being 131 or 124 years old (Oregon made Labor Day a holiday in 1887, the Federal Government did so in 1894), in the long history of work it is actually quite recent.
When Martin Luther was writing in the 1500s, there was a similar problem as was happening in the 1800s. The work of the common person was being devalued. While in the 1800s it was being devalued because of automation and exploitation, in the 1500s the work of the common person was being devalued as being less important than the work clergy did. The only valued “vocation” was that of religious vocation.
Martin Luther argued against the narrowness of this view, even as he himself was an ordained priest and had been a monastic for part of his life. Jobs that are necessary for the well-being of society (highwayman and other ne’er-do-wells clearly excluded from this title) were also jobs where a Christian could do holy work. Of course, to do this a person was not exploiting their position for sordid gain. However, even suggesting this was rather radical. From the jobs people esteem to the lowliest jobs around, all could be holy vocations, not just praying in a monastery.
On this Labor Day weekend, take time to contemplate the holiness of all the jobs that help us. God blesses us through our neighbors. The comforts of life we enjoy today would be impossible without the help of billions of people all around the globe, including those around us in our neighborhoods.
Reminder: we are worshiping with Pine Grove Presbyterian at 9:30am on Sunday. Also, next Sunday we resume Sunday school at 9:30am.
God continue to be with you,
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+