Falling into Autumn
NB: An abbreviated version appeared in our church newsletter a month ago and in full form in the local paper the next week.
There went Labor Day, flying by without a hint of September to prepare us. Our nation uses this closing bookend for Summer to squeeze in a final bit of vacation. Over the past weekend, some likely viewed Labor Day as an opportunity to reflect upon the value of their current jobs and of work in general. Others utilized it as a government-sanctioned means of getting away from employment they despise. Some spent “quality time” (whatever that might be) with family and friends while others used the three day weekend as an excuse for drunkenness and other misbehavior.
I grew up among Lutherans who possessed a rich heritage of appreciating God’s gift of vocation. Of course, other Christians also hold deep appreciation for the purpose our Lord grants us when He calls us into honest labor. We are thus blessed with the ability to thank the God who made us for granting us the physical and mental gifts needed to earn our living and provide for our families. We also receive the gift of knowing that through our own tasks, the Father answers others’ prayers, including their petitions in the Our Father.
God uses not only farmers, but all who engage in godly vocations as part of His answer to our requests for daily bread. All who grow, process, manufacture, market, or transport various goods and services are messengers spreading His bounty. This covers all people who meet their neighbors’ current or future needs of body and mind, for what they do provides daily bread by feeding, housing, clothing, or comforting others. It most especially includes parents and teachers, who prepare others to go out into the world equipped for their own labors.
For parents, pastors, and others who also hold spiritual authority, He also brings forgiveness of trespasses, leads people away from temptation, and delivers from evils we often don’t even realize are close-by. I pray that whether your work is at home or away, whether that of student, employee, or employer, whether you work only for yourself or also for others, God would bless your labors and grant you a thankful heart both for what He provides to you and what He does for others through you.
In our congregation’s September newsletter, I reminded the flock that I regularly thank God for allowing me to labor here in Emma. I invoked Saint Paul’s words to the Philippian Christians as an encouragement to the members of Holy Cross: “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (2:14–16)”
Likewise, I thank all who I’ve reached through this column for giving me an honest read, for weighing my words against God’s Word, and for allowing me the privilege of laboring for your spiritual well-being. I pray that He would richly bless you with the gifts of this world, including your daily bread — what our Catechism describes as “everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”
Finally, as summer wanes into autumn, our Lord God reminds us that our earthly lives also wane and eventually draw to a close. In mind of this, may He continue to sustain you with the greater gifts of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation through His one great Gift, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Explanation to the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer from The Small Catechism by Martin Luther, © 1986 by Concordia Publishing House.
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.
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Newspaper column #561