• Lex McDonald

Blessings and Prosperity

Luke 6: 20

“Then he looked up at his disciples and said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Blessings and Prosperity

Labor Day is a good time for us to think about the things related to the work that people do, the jobs that people have, and the role that ‘work’ plays in our lives. Although Labor Day is a secular holiday, it can be a time for us to develop awareness and be in prayer for those who go to work each day.

This year, in the middle of the pandemic, we pray for the millions in our world who have lost their jobs and businesses because of the virus, and we pray for recovery for them.

We also pray for those for whom the virus has changed the nature of their work. We pray for those whose work makes them heroes to us now more than ever before. The first responders, those who work in public safety, health care workers, and teachers – all of them are now at greater risk of harm to themselves through their work than ever before. We honor them and pray for them on this Labor Day.

We pray for those whose job it is to develop public policy, for how we live together right now during the pandemic and how we adjust and adapt in the future. We pray for our leaders, whose job it is to make the difficult and perhaps unpopular decisions and to chart a course that they believe is in the best interest of us all.

And, as Christians and followers of Jesus, Labor Day offers us the opportunity to think about the poor – the people that Jesus spoke of often, and who he seemed to care so much about. We read the Gospels and there is no escaping the fact that Jesus had a special affinity for those who live in poverty.

Perhaps this affinity was due in part to the fact that, before he was an itinerant preacher and teacher, Jesus worked as a carpenter, like his father Joseph. We recall that although he was Incarnate God, he was also human, and his family of origin was far from wealthy. They were what we now call ‘working class.’

And we recall that, at the age of thirty, he quit working as a carpenter to fulfill his mission of initiating the Kingdom of God. Quite a career change, to say the least. And we recall that, as he himself said, his mission included the elevation of and care for those who live in poverty.

So, as followers of Jesus we are called to continue that mission. We are called to address the issues that lead to poverty, where statistics tell us that two-thirds of the world’s population lives in or is subject to crippling poverty.

And for you and I, on this Labor Day, there is also this: we are called to bring God’s mission directly to the people who we know and who live in our community. In other words, those of us who have had advantages in life - education and persons to pave our way into a good career should remember those who have not had the same. We are called to remember those who have not had the good fortune of birth and opportunity that we have.

As we remember the workers and families of our world, we might proclaim the following beatitudes:

Blessed are those who live paycheck to paycheck, and blessed are those for whom the loss of that paycheck means the loss of healthcare and a place to live.

Blessed are those who work multiple jobs just to pay the bills.

Blessed are those who are desperately seeking work and who bear the physical and emotional toll of unemployment.

Blessed are those who do the hard jobs, the unpleasant jobs, and the minimum wage jobs.

Blessed are the working poor.

A hymn that speaks to this is “All Who Love and Serve Your City” The lyrics say:

All who love and serve your city, all who bear its daily stress, all who cry for peace and justice, all who curse and all who bless.

In your day of loss and sorrow, in your day of helpless strife, honor, peace, and love retreating, seek the Lord, who is your life.

In your day of wealth and plenty, wasted work and wasted play, call to mind the word of Jesus, “Work ye yet while it is day.”

May God bless all those who work and serve, and all who cry for peace and justice. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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