Come, labor on.
No time for rest, till glows the western sky,
till the long shadows o’er our pathway lie,
and a glad sound comes with the setting sun,
“Well done, well done!” by Jane Laurie Borthwick
Labor Day is actually a celebration of workers in general and labor unions in particular. We wouldn’t need labor unions if all people were always paid fairly and always serving in safe conditions. But alas, the downside of capitalism is greed. It’s sad that we need to legislate humane behavior like allowing children to go to school instead of work in a factory and giving workers days off/vacations.
I hope you are resting from your labors today. And a profound thanks to those spending this day at work especially if you are putting out dangerous grill fires or stitching up parade mishaps.
If you are a boss – whether you oversee carpenters or teachers or tomato pickers or law firm partners – it’s in your organization’s best interest to be generous, appreciative and kind. And it pleases our Creator.
My labor involves pastoring and you might think you know what that means: preaching, teaching, administrating, pastoral caregiving, fundraising, marrying, burying, baptizing. Most job descriptions also ask that we take on “additional duties as assigned.”
In my 38 years of professional ministry, my additional duties have included:
- Trapping squirrels in the Fellowship Hall
- Opening a state legislature with prayer
- Leading worship in a circus tent beside caged animal liturgists
- Transporting human ashes to Europe
- Shooting down helium balloons in the sanctuary
- Putting out a literal fire on the Pentecost communion table
- Overtaking a knife-wielding young man who was “tired of being Jesus“
- Dismantling a grotto on the church lawn someone from the NA group created in my honor
- Teaching simple birth control to a group of kids after one of them told me her boyfriend was “using protection” and she clarified by saying he carried a handgun
- Serving as a character witness for a Marine accused of being gay at his court marshall (pre-DADT Repeal Act of 2010)
- Blessing a home after a murder had taken place there
- Interviewing hoisters for a pipe organ installation
- Picking up parishioners’ children from assorted day care facilities after an act of terrorism on our nation in 2001.
All of us have stories about the “additional duties as assigned” and yet there are some jobs that are – by definition – story-generating. Here are a couple I’ve discovered since last Labor Day weekend:
- Astronomer Royal – This person looks for cosmic phenomena for the Queen of England and Baron Rees of Ludlow has served since 1995. It pays $129 annually. (Note: even if we have the lowliest of jobs, ending our job title with “Royal” makes it sound elegant. Even so, clergy believe Jesus is the King of kings so “Pastor Royal” is out.)
- Underwater Welder – The death rate is rather high for his occupation but it pays well.
- Food Photographer – I’m told the GOAT food photographer is Francesco Tonelli.
- Whiskey Historian – I met David Blackmore, Single Malt Scotch Global Brand Ambassador for The Glenmorangie Company last weekend and that seems to be an interesting job.
Whatever work you do – paid or unpaid, glorious or boring – thank you so much. And if your work generates good stories, all the better.