Midweek Devotion: Labor Day 2020

Of course, with Labor Day weekend around the corner, I’ve been thinking about work and our faith. See our September newsletter at www.bethanypresgc.net for similar thoughts.

Today, I’ve chosen two church songs that mention the role work has in our lives and our faith. The first one is, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by our Love.” 

Here’s a song that comes out of the turbulent 1960’s and after Vatican II. Peter Scholtes, serving at St. Brendan’s parish on the South Side of Chicago, penned “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” when he could not find a suitable song to accompany a series of ecumenical and interracial events for which the youth choir he led was to sing (Daw, 303). Like many songs coming out of the popular folk music of the 1960s, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” connected to the societal upheaval of the decade.

The popular song gives a picture of what being a Christian community should look like when we take our call to discipleship seriously. The hymn is based on John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (NIV). The image the song paints is as appropriate today as it was back in the mid 1960’s. People are going to know we are followers of Christ by our love in action, holding hands, working side by side, protecting each other’ dignity and praising God together.

Here are a couple of YouTube links to They’ll Know We are Christians by our Love.

1) https://youtu.be/cEwb51LawAI

2) https://youtu.be/G3UAneLvDqY

Our second hymn is, “Earth and All Stars” and also comes out of the 1960’s when a Lutheran pastor used Psalm 96:1, “O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth,” as a basis for his song. Herbert Brokering, wrote this text for the 90th anniversary of St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN in 1964. When asked about this hymn Brokering said, “I tried to gather into a hymn of praise the many facets of life which emerge in the life of community. So, there are the references to building, nature, learning, family, war, festivity. Seasons, emotions, death and resurrection, bread, wine, water, wind, sun, spirit. . . have made great impressions on my imagination.”

As an aside, Brokering has Iowa connections. He studied at Wartburg in Waverly, and later at the University of Iowa. 

Here are a couple of links on YouTube.

1) https://youtu.be/m9nWK2bvSkM

2) https://youtu.be/xTlH8IAqGAQ

Thinking of you and praying you can relax and be renewed over our Labor Day weekend. 

Invitation to Confession 

On this Labor Day Sunday let us lift up all people who labor, either for pay or as volunteers, in jobs or at school, at home or in the workplace, here at home and all around the world.

Unison Prayer of Confession

We are workers, God, just like you.

But we confess that our actions

do not always affirm and honor each other.

Our work is not always done in a spirit that is pleasing to you.

We confess that, on some occasions,

we have blindly bought goods made by people who are paid too little

or work in unsafe conditions.

We admit that we have failed to end an unjust system

in which some workers have jobs that provide good wages and benefits

while others may have no job,

or one that pays little and provides few benefits. 

Creator God,

help us to be your people,

working for a world where all workers are valued.

A world where those who clean houses are also able to buy houses to live in.

A world where those who grow food can also afford to eat their fill.

And one where those who serve and care for others –

in stores, schools, hotels, restaurants, nursing homes, and many other places –

are, themselves, also served and cared for. 

A world where all workers everywhere

share in the abundance that you have given us.

Words of Assurance 

Our God is a God of grace and transformation. When we ask, God gives us the courage and strength

to live out our faith in the workplace and the marketplace, as well as in the sanctuary.