I spoke on the topic of labour yesterday and how it relates to the faith journey.

For most of us, Labour Day is related to the last hurrah of summer, that last long weekend to enjoy with family.  Many are getting ready for back-to-school, and indeed this past week I admired the new shoes and backpacks of my grandchildren.  All part of the excitement!

Labour Day has traditionally seemed labour intensive to me.  Coming from Mennonite roots… and others will relate to this… it is the season for harvest, for canning, for preserving.  Peaches are just finishing and tomatoes need attention.  This time of year we roast our tomatoes with onions, garlic and pepper and I’ve been known to sneak in a rogue zucchini  Blend it all up with lots of fresh basil and it makes a wonderful harvest supper, with leftovers to freeze for winter!

I have two children born in September!  That was labour intensive!!  When they were little I often joked that this was poor family planning to have birthday parties in the midst of harvest and back-to-school.  It created a very busy September!  But today I attend my granddaughter’s birthday party… and the tradition continues!

I looked into the history of Labour Day to better understand its roots and was fascinated to find that the initial movements in Canada were to shorten the work week to 9 hours a day.  This is foreign to most of us, except for some workaholics I know.  :-)    The Union movement was created to provide relief for workers and create more time for education and time for families.  It is worth celebrating.

We all need a balance of work and rest.  When there is no meaningful work to do, I believe we begin to whither and lose meaning in our lives.  Recently I was called to encourage two ladies in their nineties who had lost hope and were depressed.  We talked about their lives and what brought them meaning.  I encouraged them that their lives still had purpose… they could pray… which is one of the most precious things we can do.  They could smile and encourage others.  When I left them, we were all encouraged!

The apostle Paul talked about the meaning of work and how we do it to honour the One who gave us life and energy.  He was a tent-maker, supporting his missionary work.  He says in Colossians 3: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”   

I like to think we find God in the ordinary.  When I am doing laundry or creating a meal, I can be praying or thanking God for the blessings we have received.  We have clothes and shelter and abundance.  When we tend the earth, we give thanks for the miracle of plants and growth and provision.  Not to mention the wonderful variety of food we enjoy.  When we stop to think about it, it is truly amazing.

I am grateful today for all, who by their labour enrich my life.  We think especially of fire-fighters in our province today and pray for them.  Their labour is intensive.  I pray for all those who are in the front-lines, the helpers, the government officials who make decisions, the community workers who provide resources.

We pray for all the teachers, who are preparing for a busy week!  We pray for health-care professionals, from those who clean our facilities (important work!), those who provide nutrition, for nurses, doctors, lab techs and so many more.  I am grateful for the service industry, for those who work in stores, we can go an buy anything we need!  And grateful for the factories and other warehouses where people work diligently to create the many things we need and desire.

I am thankful for leaders in the faith community, and others who work in the church and community.  Life would be difficult without those who work in sanitation, and keeping our community clean and safe.  And I am thankful for the many many volunteers who work freely to make our community and world a better place.

And you know, I could go on and on.  So Happy Labour Day!

May you be blessed by all you do today, whether it is rest or recreation or labour.  All are wonderful gifts, not to be taken for granted.

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