Prayer for Labour Day

Here is a Labour Day prayer written by American theologian and biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann.  Although written from an American perspective, it could easily be adapted for use in other countries.

We are again at our annual moment to honor labor, to remember those who do hard work, to recall tales of depression poverty, to wonder at our economy.

As we remember, we are aware that “labor” today is surrounded by hostile euphemisms – downgrading, outsourcing, minimum wage, 401(k)s – all strategies to cut costs, with the result that laborers are put at more risk, all the while we indulge in endless extravagance.

We are mindful on this day:

• That most hard labor in our country is performed by people who may not be like us – African Americans, Hispanics, people who lack our advanced skills and connections, and who settle for being labor that is cheap, while food and housing continue to grow more expensive;

• That we are here because our mothers were in labor for us, loving us before we were born, available for inconvenience and for pain, and as we grew . . . for worry in the night.

• That there is other work to be done, what Jesus called, “my Father’s work” – healing the sick, caring for the poor, casting out demons, doing the hard work of justice. We give thanks for those who do this.

On Labor Day, with most of us so privileged that we do not sweat unless we play tennis or jog, give us fresh perspective on our labor, that our lives consist in more than earning and eating, in making and selling, that our lives consist in the hard, urgent work of the neighborhood.

Empower us as you did our mothers that we may birth new well-being, that neighbors may live in justice, that we may know the joy of compassion that overrides the drudgery of our common day.

We pray in the name of Jesus, from whom we know your own self-giving life, for we gladly confess that “no one works like him.”


—Walter Brueggemann, from his book Prayers for a Privileged People. 
Posted on Michael Bayly’s The Wild Reed Blogspot

For more prayers and litanies for Labour Day, click on Labour Day in the list of “Labels” at the lower right side of the page.