Then He said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Matthew 9:37
During the economic Panic of 1893, thousands of businesses shut down, and unemployment reached over 20%. In 1894, about 3,000 Chicago railroad workers staged an unauthorized walkout to protest reduced paychecks and layoffs. Nationwide, half a million workers held sympathy boycotts, slowing railroad traffic such that President Grover Cleveland sent troops for the first time in history to end the strike. To promote peace, Cleveland declared a national holiday called Labor Day. The railroad strike resulted in widespread unionization and public awareness of class and pay inequality, and spawned the ideas of minimum wage and overtime pay.
And you thought Labor Day was just about the bratwurst.
This fall, our church is planning its annual Stewardship Sunday, on which we kick off a campaign to have members pledge what they plan to give for the coming year. Our church emphasizes all the ways in which our members give—money, time, talent, expertise, experience, and passion. When Jesus said “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few,” He was not talking about the monetary bottom line it took to keep His earthly ministry afloat. He was talking about the labor of harvesting souls, reaching those who don’t know about the Kingdom of God, or had chosen to ignore what they had heard. How can we as laborers in that Kingdom make a difference in other peoples’ lives? How do we spend and give away our money, time, talents, expertise, experience and passion? Yes, the church has a budget, and sometimes people forget that the church has light and power bills just as individual households do, and the church also needs to buy coffee and cleaners and printer paper and toilet paper just like everybody else. But the real purpose of the church is to bring as many souls as possible into lasting, daily, committed fellowship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In God’s eyes, the worth of our offerings that promote the Gospel message far surpasses the numbers that appear on the checks we write or the change our children collect for Sunday school offerings. The money will come if the passion is there. Can you be a laborer for God’s harvest?
Father, this Labor Day, stir us to consider how we work to build Your Kingdom on earth. Amen