Love and work, work and love, that’s all there is.-Sigmund Freud
The Collect crafted for Labor DayAlmighty 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.
Readings selected for Labor Day:-Ecclesiasticus 38:27-32a-Psalm 107:1-9-1 Corinthians 3:10-14-Matthew 6:19-24
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw– the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.1 Corinthians 3:10-14
St. Paul and Sigmund Freud: Love and work
It’s Labor Day, one of the few national/secular holidays that has crept its way into the church calendar. So somebody somewhere sometime thought that Labor Day has something to do with our faith. What might that something be?
Each year, this holiday (a.k.a., holy day) asks people of faith to think about the work we are given to do, why and how we do it. There are prayers and readings chosen for the day. I’ve printed the collect for the day in the column on the left. Note how it indicates that in our work we are interconnected with others, whatever that work may be.
The readings chosen for the day have a lot to say about work. You might want to look them up. I’ve noted citations in the column on the left as well. A reading from Ecclesiasticus points to the variety of work we do. In the gospel passage, an excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges disciples to think about why they are working, and what they treasure. (Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.)
And then there’s a brief passage from St. Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. He wrote to this community, an unruly group, often squabbling with each other the way church folks still squabble. Nothing new under the sun. As the apostle coaches them, he talks about the work they’ve been given to do. For him, that work in its great variety is a matter of building on a foundation. It brings to mind what Sigmund Freud said about work and love. He said: “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.”
All of which makes me think about our foundations. On what are we building our lives? Freud said that love and work are the foundations, the cornerstones. St. Paul takes it a step further, asking us to consider where love and work find their foundation in the construction of our lives. On what are love and work based?
For those of us swimming in the stream of the Jesus movement, we need to recognize not only that our lives are built on love and work, relationships and effort. In St. Paul’s words, we need to see that our love and work, our relationships and efforts are based on a person we commit to follow. To riff on a favorite hymn: Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the head and cornerstone.
So take some time on this day off to think about your own life, about your relationships and about where you apply effort. Think about how love and work provide a cornerstone, a foundation for you. And think about what it means to have Jesus as foundation for love and work. In my early Monday morning meandering, here are a few answers: Christ as foundation means we build our lives on grace. It means we build our lives on service. It means we build our lives on humility. It means we seek to be a peacemaker. It means we attend to the outsider. It means we practice forgiveness, and I do mean practice, because at least in my case, I need to get better at it. It means that we see that love of God is inseparable from love of neighbor. It means a new way of life.
Newsflash: There are other foundations on which we can build our lives. Hear what Jesus is saying: Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.
Contact: Rev. Jay Sidebotham email@example.com RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement www.renewalworks.org
Leading for Discipleship: A conference especially for those who have worked with RenewalWorks Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Wilmington, NC