Monday, September 2, 2013

Celebrating Work

How did you spend and celebrate Labor Day?  If you are fortunate, you had a day off.  If you are really fortunate it was a paid holiday.  But many of us worked on Labor Day, not to actually celebrate it, but because we needed to keep our jobs!  But by doing so you kept the local economy rolling or provided necessary services for the rest of us, and we thank you!

More than just the “official” end of the summer tourism season and the beginning of “fall”, Labor Day has its roots in the recognition of something God designed and affirms: work.  Although it is totally secular in its origins as recognition of American labor, the idea of work started even before the very onset of mankind’s creation.

In the very opening words of Scripture we’re told that God used His creative powers to form the universe, including our solar system.  For the first six days He “worked”, speaking into existence all we see or know in nature and astronomy.  Taking the seventh day off to “rest” He set examples for us.  First, work is a good and necessary thing.  Second, we should always take time off after working. 

On that sixth day, after covering all the basics of creation and the animal world God produced a creation designed in His own image: man.  And even with everything provided for him to live and enjoy life Adam and Eve were given “work” responsibilities.  They looked after the garden God had given them as their home.  He had given them intelligence no enjoyed by the rest of creation, and with that intelligence He gave them a task: name all the animals in the garden.  In what we suppose as a life of leisure there was still work to do.  And it must have been enjoyable as they came up with the names and looked after God’s perfectly crafted home.

But apparently they didn’t use their idle time wisely, and found themselves in a pickle.  Rather than trust God for everything, they fell to the temptation of thinking they could become gods themselves and picked and ate the fruit that God had forbidden.  Among the penalties placed upon them for their rebellion was a life of work.  But this work wasn’t simple and easy.  Here’s what God told them:

“The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground…” - Genesis 3:17b-19a.  So next time your work is painful or sweaty, blame it on the poor choices of your progenitors. 

Life would be a dream if we could get back to the garden (think Crosby, Stills and Nash there).  But work – hard work is our lot.  Healthy minded descendants of Adam have learned to accept that and seek to provide the necessities, and if we’re fortunate, the better things of life through work.  Blessed we are as Americans to live in a country where we’re free to work and free to seek whatever kind of employment we desire.  Our economy stands on the backs of working men and women no matter what color their collars.

I know that there are some people who can’t wait to get up and go to work every day.  And those people are especially blessed.  But most of us likely have those days (especially if the fish are running or there’s a great swell) when we’d rather be doing something else.  But we’re blessed, if we have jobs, to be able to punch the clock and earn our living.

Thanks to all who do so.  And to those who may perhaps be currently unemployed, I hope you return to work soon.  Work is what we do, and makes a difference in so many positive ways in our society and in hour homes.

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