September 2nd 2018 by Pastor Galen Zook
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17).
The Value and Dignity of Work
Tomorrow is Labor Day, the day that we celebrate the worth and value of work. And so, it’s fitting to note that in the Bible, work was part of God’s original plan. Work is supposed to be one of those “good and perfect gifts” that James talks about that comes down from above, from the Father of Lights. Depending on how much you love your job you might normally think of work as a curse rather than a blessing! But God intended for us to do work that was creative, and meaningful, work that furthers and extends God’s creation, work that showcases and highlights God’s wondrous qualities.
Now the reality is that the work that we so often have to do is tiresome and toilsome, and so often we cannot see it contributing to a greater purpose. But it’s important that we remember that in the beginning, God intended work to be good. And even when the work that we are required to do may not seem to have a greater meaning or purpose, God is still able to bless and multiply the work of our hands.
What’s fascinating to me is that the God of the Universe is not above doing work. In the first few chapters of Genesis, we see God doing the work of creation. The Bible says that “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:2). It also says that God formed man from the dust of the ground, and planted a garden.
We see God’s willingness to get down and dirty mostly clearly in God sending Jesus to earth to live among us. In the communion liturgy that we’re going to read later in our service, we will be reminded that Jesus was a carpenter, and that he gathered fisherman, activists, and wealthy businesswomen. Jesus delegated tasks and “empowered all his followers to do his divine work in this world.” Ultimately, Christ did the work of salvation and redemption, to free us from the bondage of slavery to sin and to make it possible for us to be raised to newness of life through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.
Friends, this morning as we remember together Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection, tomorrow as we celebrate the value and dignity of human work, and throughout this month as celebrate God’s good gifts of creation, let’s remember to worship the One who created all good things, including work. Let’s remember to give thanks to the One who gave us these good gifts. And let’s remember that part of our calling and mission and responsibility as individuals and as a church is to preserve and protect God’s good creation so that all may see and experience God’s love, mercy, and grace.
The following Communion Liturgy is from: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/a-service-of-holy-communion-for-labor-day
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is a good and fruitful work to give thanks to you,
Almighty God, in all places and at all times
and in all our tasks.
In our cars, our homes, our offices, our fields, and our kitchens;
at our tables, our desks, our telephones, and computers;
when we are resting or waiting, laboring or supervising,
following or leading.
All these we do with all your people now on earth and all the
multitude of heaven, praising your name
and joining in their unending hymn:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are you and holy is your work among us in Jesus Christ,
who came to be born in the home of a carpenter,
a trade he learned and practiced,
a laborer in our midst.
He called out fishermen and activists.
He healed the servant of a soldier.
He received the support of resourceful women.
He delegated his ministry to his disciples,
empowered all his followers
to do his divine work in this world.
By his suffering, death, and resurrection,
you gave birth to your church,
delivered us from the bondage of sin
and the power of death
and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.
On the night in which he gave himself up for us,
he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
When the supper was over, he took the cup,
gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Drink from this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.”
And so as a baptized and commissioned people,
remembering your mighty work in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves, our daily lives,
and our unique locations
for ministry in the world-
homes and hospitals, parks and stores,
prisons and concert halls-
as a living and holy sacrifice
in union with Christ’s offering for us
as we proclaim the mystery of faith.