1 Corinthians 15:58
If you have read my blog before, you might have noticed I am not so much convinced that retirement is a good thing. Oh, sure, you get to do what you want and hopefully have set aside money to do it but it comes at a point in life when you are more likely to have health limitations. But that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the idea that retirement means you are finished with the work you must do in order to do the work you want or like to do or find fun. It is sort of a reversion to childhood when you had to do nothing but a few chores and could focus your time on having fun. But the retired are not old versions of small children -- or at least they should not be.
The work God has given you to do is not something from which you retire. You remain a husband or wife and this is your vocation that does not change with retirement. You remain a child of your parents (as long as they live) and this does not change whether or not you are working full-time. You remain a parent of your children even after they grow up and become adults. You remain a neighbor to those around you and this does not end with retirement. You are a member of the community and a citizen of your country and this vocation does not fade away when you stop working full-time. The things of your vocation do not change and the labor expended in these works is never in vain. It endures long after you are gone and if nobody else remembers it, God does.
The other part of your vocation that does not change is your labor for the Lord in His Church. There seems to me no excuse for ditching worship in pursuit of leisure and travel and entertainment just because you don't have to punch the old time clock anymore. Retirement ought to me that you are there every time the church door opens -- if not in your own parish then in a congregation where you are. Retirement ought to mean that you are free to do more work as a volunteer serving the Church in everything from choir to ushers to church gardens to painting to teaching Sunday school and everything in between. Retirement ought to mean that your assets are structured so that they provide a witness to your family, friends, and brothers and sisters in the pew -- why would you not think of the Lord and His work but remember to assign every trinket and bank account to those you want to inherit them?
If you no longer need to be employed to support yourself and those in your care, then you are free to use the fullness of all that you are and have to really make a difference -- to take up the work that is never in vain. On this Labor Day when we are lazily sitting in our lawn chairs or burning a few burgers or hot dogs or speeding down the lake on our boats or putting the ball on a nice green, let us remember and give thanks for the labor that provides for the necessities of life by God's design and blessing. But let us not forget the labor which is never in vain -- our vocations as the baptized children of God within the Church, the home, and neighborhood, and the community.
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