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Litany of Labor for Labor Day Weekend

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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I have said before that I am inspired by the calls and requests that many of you make. Recently, I was asked by a pastor in northwest Indiana if I had anything that could be used for Labor Day that would seek God's blessing, on the one hand, and root labor in the sense of Christian vocation, on the other.

Sadly, I did not find much on my shelves that dealt with this subject, although I did find one short blessing that called for the assembling of a variety of tools and work equipment to be blessed. Perhaps a table of small items would be good as both visual illustration/symbol for the day, as well as object lesson for a children's sermon. It would be not be difficult to track all the different vocations that intersect in the manufacture and distribution of a paper clip, for example, or a pencil, drill, hammer, calculator, etc.

Given that Labor Day always falls on a green Sunday in the Pentecost season, and given that it is a national holiday and not a church festival, I would suggest that a simple Litany would suffice to mark the day. Below is a "Litany of Labor" that I have written and commend to your use. It would replace the Prayer of the Church.

 

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Litany of Labor:

A. Let us pray to the Lord of all creation, from whom comes life and work and purpose.
         Almighty God, when you formed us lovingly out of the dust of the earth, you breathed into us the breath of life and gave us work and purpose for living.

C. You placed Adam in the garden of Eden to till and keep it.

 

A. Through our work, you made us co-creators with you, shaping the world in which we live.

C. You gave dignity to our labor by sending your Son to labor with us.

 

A. By our labor, you enrich the world.

C. By our labor, we enjoy the fruits of creation.

 

A. By our labor, we find direction and purpose.

C. By our labor, our families are made secure.

 

A. For providing varieties of work and for blessing us by our labor:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those who plow the field and those who make the plow; for farmers and farm workers, for steelworkers and machinists; for those who work with their hands and those who move the earth:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those who tend the sick and those who seek new cures; for doctors and nurses, for scientists and technicians; for those who keep notes and those who transcribe:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those who think and those who create; for inventors and explorers, for artists and musicians; for those who write books and those who entertain:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those who work in offices and those who work in warehouses; for secretaries and receptionists, for stockers and bookkeepers; for those who market products and for those who move them:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those who inspire our minds and those who motivate us; for teachers and preachers, for public servants and religious servants; those who help the poor and those who work with our children:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those whose labor is tidiness and cleanliness; for janitors and sanitary workers, for drycleaners and maids; for those who produce cleaning products and those who use them:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those who sail the waves and those who fly the skies; for captains and attendants, for astronauts and deep sea divers; for those who chart and those who navigate:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

A. You bless us all with skills and gifts for labor.

C. You provide us opportunities to use them, for the benefit of others as well as ourselves.

 

A. Guard and protect those who labor in the world.

C. Bless the work of our hands, O Lord.

 

A. Look kindly upon the unemployed and the disabled.

C. Give health to the sick, hope to the bereaved.

 

A. Keep us from laboring only for greed.

C. Make us loving and responsible in all that we do.

 

P. Creator Lord, you are the source of all wisdom and purpose, you are the blessing of those who labor. Be with us in our labor to guide and govern our world. Give all men and women work that enhances human dignity and bonds us to one another. Give us pride in our work, a fair return for our labor, and joy in knowing that our work finds its source in you; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

C. Amen