Labor Day and the Sabbath

Today is Labor Day. I don’t really know what to say about Labor Day. I mean, what do we really do to celebrate Labor Day? As a child growing up we would ordinarily return from visiting relatives in Virginia Beach over the long weekend and then grudgingly scurry about getting ready for school to begin the next day. I don’t ever remember anyone taking the time or opportunity to extol the virtues of labor on Labor Day. Do you? If so, please share your memories with me. Normally, I celebrate Labor Day by not laboring. Often times I spend my time on Labor Day watching tennis from the U.S. Open. I mean I guess there are parades somewhere in honor and celebration of labor but there just isn’t much fuss made about Labor Day. When was the last time you were invited over for a Labor Day party?

I do know that I cannot over-emphasize the importance of labor. I look forward to work even when I don’t exactly know what work may entail the next day. My line of work as a pastor seems to have that added significance of eternity to it but in reality doesn’t all of our work have that added significance of eternity to it? We want our work to count, right? We want our work to be significant and make a difference in the lives of others. Whenever I find myself just going through the motions with work I remember the words of the apostle Paul who said in Colossians 3:17 and elsewhere: Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him. I know that whenever I am feeling a bit sluggish and the day just seems to be groggy that if I go out and work in the yard or even in the office that I have done my body, my mind and my soul a world of good.

And yet, I am oh so grateful for the Sabbath. I read a recent book about the Sabbath by Walter Brueggeman which seemed to bring grace and peace to my heart. Brueggemann talked about how the gift of Sabbath was just a glorious moment of rest and grace and peace for the Israelites who had just come out of a long, intense period of captivity in which they worked constantly to fulfill the needs of Pharaoh who had set himself up as God. I learned that by the gift of Sabbath, God taught the Israelites that they could trust in Him and in His faithfulness; that they didn’t have to work all day every day but could work when work was called for and rest that one day of the week. As I sit here working I am oh so thankful for the Sabbath! Hallelujah! Amen. May you rest in the Lord today.

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