Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a national holiday and is rightly set aside to honor and celebrate the achievements of all American workers. Labor Day serves as a vivid reminder that “the whole world of human cooperative effort in productive projects and creative activity: work, trade, professions, law, industry, agriculture, engineering, education, medicine, media, politics and government — even leisure, sport, art and entertainment” — has greatly added “materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy.” In sum, our collective fruitful labor has aided and abetted the flourishing of all Americans.
It is, therefore, fitting that America pause and pay tribute to those who have created so much of our nation’s vigor and common good – the American worker. The Lord’s Day leading up to Labor Day is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the American worker who sits in the pew. How might we celebrate the American worker in our corporate worship settings?
Five Ways to Celebrate the American Worker in Corporate Worship
First, celebrate the gift of work and what work affords every worker. Work affords every imago Dei bearer the opportunity to love and serve their neighbor. All good work reinforces and affirms the inherent dignity of every imago Dei bearer. Celebrating human work celebrates the dignity of human beings.
Second, celebrate the skills or capacity of all workers — white collar, blue collar, pink collar and no collar. We should be thankful for the skillful hands of the surgeon and the skillful hands of the car mechanic. We should be thankful for the artistry of the florist and the cake maker. Celebrate the work of workers whose hands seem invisible to society — the custodian, the assembly line worker and the administrator. Celebrate the One who bestows all of us with these great gifts (James 1:17).
Third, celebrate the many industries represented in your congregation and the unique and essential services and products each one provides. Celebrate the automobile industry, housing industry, banking industry, transportation industry, clothing industry, food industry, communications industry, and medical and health industry. Celebrate the services extended by our civil government and education structures.
Fourth, celebrate and give honor to God for His good gift of work and the American worker intentionally through your liturgy. Celebrate by singing songs that affirm our work, such as, Aaron Niequist’s Here Are My Hands or the classic, Be Thou My Vision. Celebrate and affirm work not just on the Lord’s Day leading up to Labor Day but on other Sundays throughout the year by doing “faith and work” interviews. Interview workers from an industry in your congregation in place of the sermon or prior to the sermon and ask such questions as:
- How would you describe your work?
- As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work? (Gen, 1:26-28, 1 Cor. 10:31, Eph. 5:1, Col. 3:17). Where do you take the greatest joy in your work?
- How does your work give you an unique vantage point into the brokenness of the world? (Gen. 3; Rom. 3:10-20)
- Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” How does your work function as an opportunity to love and serve others? (Mk. 10:35-45; Eph. 5:1; Rom. 12:14-21; Col. 1:24-27)
Fifth, celebrate Labor Day and the contributions of all workers in your congregation by leading a commissioning service. This commissioning service can serve as encouragement and a call for your members to recommit themselves to do good and ethical work. For an example of commissioning service, see an act of commitment to vocation in daily life.
Every second of the day, we benefit from the creative output of American workers. Every second of the day is then an appropriate time to give God praise for His varied gifts and skills bestowed on every American worker; and every second of the day is an appropriate time to celebrate all American workers for the service they lend so that we can flourish.
- Five Ways to Celebrate the Worker in Corporate Worship - February 1, 2017