Meditation Monday - Labor Day: More Than a Paycheck

Today is Labor Day. For many people this holiday marks the end of summer. Yet its real intention is to honor the place of work in our lives and in our society. This means more than how we earn a paycheck or even the material prosperity of our nation. Especially during the last year of his life, Martin Luther King, Jr. focused on the importance of economic justice. He made it clear that there is a moral and spiritual dimension to labor and economics. In his last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, Dr. King lifted up the following challenge, “We have allowed the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live…Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul.” Over fifty years after these words were written, we find ourselves in a polarized society characterized by increasing economic disparity including the growing racial wealth gap. Many people work full time jobs and still remain in poverty. So on this Labor Day, I want to encourage each of us to reflect not only on the means by which we make a living but the ends to which we commit our lives. The Bible summarizes God’s intended purpose for our lives with the word Shalom. This Hebrew word is usually translated as “Peace.” Yet it means much more than peace as the absence of conflict. Rather it means God’s “Wholeness” for all people and the entire planet characterized by peace, love, and justice. No matter what kind of labor we pursue as the means to earn a living, may we also commit ourselves to God’s Shalom as the ends for which we live. This includes economic justice for everyone, especially those whose labor does not enable them to make a living.