This year some of us might also get a chance to catch a few holes of the rain-delayed end of the PGA Deutsche Bank Championship Golf tournament, or see if 17-year-old Melanie Oudin can keep the momentum going in her emotion filled victories over Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova in US Open Tennis.
All this, on a holiday meant to honor organized labor and the important role of unions in our national history.
Labor Day may be the one holiday in the year where many of us would rather think about just about anything other than the intended meaning of the day. Yet unions, for all of their faults, excesses, and current unpopularity, have played an important role in two of the most important parts of our life: work and rest.
The fact that the mention of unions tends to polarize us confirms a theme that begins in the first pages of the Bible. From the days of our eviction from the garden, thorns in the field, marital conflict, and multiplied pain in childbirth signaled the beginning of beefs between workers and owners.
The result is that yet today workers and managers are equally inclined to take advantage of the other.
The Bible’s first picture of God is that of a Worker who does good work for six days and rests on the seventh.
One of its first pictures of us is of workers who traded our God-given rhythm of meaningful work and rest for seven days of trouble.
Yet as both Testaments show, our work and our rest still both matter to God. As our Provider, he cares about the way we treat the land that produces our bread… and how we work as labor and management…for one another.
The New Testament makes this point by using the case study of the worst job: being an economic servant to a cruel self-centered owner.
Yet even in a bad job, those slaves who had no opportunity for freedom were encouraged to do good work—as if they were working for, trusting, and resting in God their Owner and Provider (Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:22-25).
Managers and owners who claimed to be followers of Christ received equally wise counsel. They were to treat their workers as brothers and sisters, while recognizing that they themselves were accountable to God. (Eph 6:9; Col 4:1)
This has not changed. How we work and rest still matters to God. And because of our beefs with Him, both management and labor are necessary– though difficult– facts of life.
Am fortunate. Don’t have to show up for work today… except here at the house… where the list of to-dos seems to be getting longer as I sit … and think… 1. Clean the barbecue. 2. Clean-up the mess in my work room. 3. Mow the yard. 4. Put on the fertilizer that should have gone on July 4. 5. Wash the truck. 6. Fix the light in the downstairs hall. 7. Sort and pay the bills. 8. Sweep the garage. 9. Get some exercise. 10. Enjoy the day off :-)…