Monday, September 4, 2023
Now many years ago Gene Veith suggested that Labor Day should be a Church Holy Day but with its theme cast in terms of vocation. For those of you who do not know, Veith has become one of the more powerful voices to recapture the Lutheran teaching on vocation and restore its place within our piety -- quite convincingly, I might add.
I must say that I was quite moved when I first read Gustaf Wingren's book on Luther's teaching on vocation. It was powerful stuff and, even though I was fortunate enough to have one of the older copies, it is available still in reprint. If you have the money head to Amazon and pick one up pronto. You might also check out some good stuff by John Pless and a few others who have picked up the ball on this.
As some of you might know from this blog, I am somewhat a purist when it regards the church year and creating days and, yet, if there is any focus worthy of a day, this one just might be it. Since it is often a "low" day in terms of attention and attendance, this just might be a good place to address a Christian insight in conjunction with the secular calendar of American holidays. It is surely clear that the Table of Duties in the Catechism is worth a day of reflection. Though we might skip over the ones we think do not apply to our particular vocation, we do live in relationship to others. We would be better served looking at how our vocations connect that simply looking at our own as a check list of what we are to do. Vocations are never lived out in solitude but are descriptive of the connections we have -- both those ordained of God and those we choose for ourselves. All in all, the suggestion that we make Labor Day over into a Holy Day and put it on the Church Calendar is probably long overdue. We live in a world in which people seem to be rushing from vocations, in pursuit of a more individual freedom and life but at the same time living with deep longing for what relationships bestow.
When I think of Labor Day I cannot help but think of my parents. Both my mom and dad imparted a healthy sense of duty to others and a deep and abiding work ethic that still makes me feel odd about doing nothing. In our world, doing nothing or digital nothing seems to be the object of everything. Work was a gift in creation and labor a noble calling, serving God by serving creation and one another. It would not hurt if we remembered this from time to time. It would be even better if we framed this theologically for our children so that they would get what a gift labor is, vocations are, and family/community are. For these are no less a part of Labor Day -- excuse me, Vocation Day.