I half suspect that by waiting until late afternoon on the Friday before Labor Day I will have missed many of you who are taking off for the long weekend by now. Then again, I know I’m not the only one who struggles to turn off the cell phone, put away the laptop, and leave the email unchecked. So – if you’re on vacation this weekend and reading this email – stop now and get back to your other diversions!
Luther would support me in this injunction, I suspect. In his explanation of the third commandment (“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.”) in the Large Catechism he writes, “we do not observe holy days for the sake of intelligent and well-informed Christians, for they have no need of them. We observe them, first, because our bodies need them. Nature teaches and demands that the common people—menservants and maidservants who have gone about their work or trade all week long—should also retire for a day to rest and be refreshed.”
This puts Luther in the camp of the interfaith movement for worker justice, which has been advocating for the rights of the common worker – the right to rest; a fair wage; and quality, affordable healthcare, among others. These basic values, found across cultures and religions, are voiced in our readings for this Sunday as well – as in Psalm 146,
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the LORD their God / who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them / who keeps promises forever; who gives justice to those who are oppressed, and food to those who hunger. / The LORD sets the captive free. / The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. / The LORD cares for the stranger; the LORD sustains the orphan and widow, but frustrates the way of the wicked.
As we gather this Sunday in worship we will celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit bringing dignity to those who labor, justice to those whose labor is exploited, and peace to those at rest.