Come Labor on!
One of the things that is easy to lose sight of in the story of Adam and Eve is that work is not a punishment. What the text says was they were created to tend a wonderful garden called Eden. What happened when they chose not to listen to God was the work that had been satisfying and delightful would now become toil, difficult and unsatisfying.
The Episcopal Church has long supported many issues related to work. These include increasing the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, protection of undocumented workers from exploitation, health and safety in workplaces.
Most importantly we have readings and prayers that speak to the biblical witness about our human labor. Some of Jesus' favorite examples in parables are about people who work, ranging from shepherds to vineyard laborers. Even centurions, tax collectors and their work were recognized and while the religious establishment of the time held their occupations against them, Jesus never does. It goes to the point that all human labor even when it is hard and unrewarding, or seen as degrading by others is given dignity by human action and presence. Yet the hope in our labor is that we always have glimpses in it of what we are doing that is for the good of creation. Otherwise as Jesus says about disciples, when they are not welcome, if it is possible, we should shake the dust off our feet and move on.
Of course the greatest work we do is to participate in bringing in the just, reconciling, merciful and loving kingdom of God and to help others experience this. As this holiday week-end comes around, take a moment to think about your work in a day, and ask yourself is there some part of it that can be lifted up to God as a blessing for you and others. Then, come labor on in the promise that human work can be more than toil and bringthat moment when someone, including you can be touched by the hope, love and grace of God.
--Mary Sulerud, Interim Rector