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Communion 2010

Labor Day

Originally scheduled for September 5

Tomorrow is Labor Day, a peculiar institution. To celebrate Washington’s Birthday we eat cherry pie –there’s some connection, at least mythically. On the Fourth of July we shoot off fireworks – again, you can see the connection. On Memorial Day we have parades – reasonable enough. On Labor Day we don’t work.

The Scripture tells us that man is to earn his daily bread by labor, by the sweat of his brow. It seems that this is a consequence of sin, but the truth is that man needs to labor. Even as sinless in the Garden of Eden, God gave man work to do; he was to tend the garden. It is not that God needed a gardener, it’s that man needs to work. One reason for this is that human beings are designed to be pleased (and tempted to pride) when they accomplish something important. We like the feeling of accomplishment.

It’s one of the great difficulties of Christianity. We want to feel that we have earned our way into God’s graces; we want him to “owe us one.” The problem, of course, is that salvation is by grace. It’s a work, all right – a work of God. But God did not fail to provide for us in this; faith without works is dead, says James. So it appears that God has provided us a way to accomplish great things despite the fact that this is not the cause of our salvation.

One cheery fact about our ever-present work is that it reminds us of our accomplishments. We know what we have done because it is right in front of us. We don’t need to be reminded of our own work. But we do need to be reminded of God’s work, for it is not our own. So it is that God has provided us with this memorial feast. Each time we drink the cup and eat the bread we are reminded that our own works don’t compare to his. We are also reminded that we should be grateful for that, no matter how great our works might be. So as you take this meal, remember that Christ labored and died for you – and give thanks.

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