Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers and was established in 1887 by President Grover Cleveland. Labor Day is an annual national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
There is another “Labor Day” we Christians celebrate and it happens more frequently! We, the laborers for our Lord are given one day week as a day of rest. The commandment given to Moses says “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
The Sabbath day is an important day. The One, who formed us from the clay and breathed His breath of life into us, clearly knows what is beneficial for our health. This day needs to be a day of rest and a day that is holy or set apart for God. “Come to Me, all ye who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. [Mt. 11:28]
In the ancient Jewish and Orthodox liturgical times, the next day begins at sundown. For the Jews the day of rest is Saturday. For us Orthodox people the day of rest begins after Great Vespers Saturday evening and completes Sunday evening after the reception of the Lord’s Supper. It is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. In Genesis we read: “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
Without keeping this day holy you will eventually need me to come visit you in the hospital when you are overcome with worldly stress and are falling apart or you will build a wall separating yourself from God, placing many obstacles in the way of your salvation and keeping you from your church attendance. We must return to God weekly with penitence and humility and to be renewed by the blood of Christ! If we think we do not need this day of rest then we are placing ourselves above God! “But if thou art willing to enter into life, keep the commandments.” [Mt. 19:17]
“For we are God’s co-laborers; ye are God’s cultivation, ye are God’s building.” [1 Cor. 3:9] May you have a blessed labor day this weekend and a blessed restful Sabbath day each and every following week!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-2-18