Labor Day, observed on the first Monday in September, celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. We pause to remember and give thanks for those whose labor contributes to the quality of our common life. So many of the products we enjoy in this country are presented to us in final form in markets, stores, and showrooms that it is easy to take granted those who produced them. It is also easy to forget how our own work impacts the lives of others.
The Book of Common Prayer provides us with fitting words of gratitude and intercession to God on Labor Day:
Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
We can also apply the petition, “...not for self alone, but for the common good” to our Cathedral community. During this time of transition, everyone is called to generously work, pray, and give for the common good so that the mission of the Cathedral remains strong and vibrant. The ongoing life and work of any community of faith is not about who's in charge; it's about the generous spirit that makes us faithful and steadfast in the mission to which God is calling us.
The key is to hear the call of God to each of us to be the generous creatures we were designed to be and to all of us to work together energetically for the common good so that we can share God's bounty with others. When we do that, people are uplifted, transformed, and healed, and God is glorified.
St. Paul told the Corinthians, “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God” (2 Cor. 9:11, 12).
Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, is our greatest example of generosity. St. Paul referred to him as God's “indescribable gift.” Jesus’ method was to form a community and teach them by word and example. You and I are the descendants of that first community and now the message of Jesus and its meaning for our world today is entrusted to us.
Where are the places in the life of Saint Andrew’s Cathedral in which you can work more energetically, pray more fervently, and give more generously for the spread of God's reign on earth? Please pray about that.
I’ll see you in Church!
The Very Reverend Ronald D. Pogue
St. Andrew's Cathedral