And on the seventh day, God finished the work and rested.Genesis 2.2
From the beginning of scripture, God provides a divine example for respite. People can take breaks. Work is good, but people also need a rest. Taking time off can recharge our energy so we can return to work.
Local governments began passing Labor Day legislation in 1885 and 1886. In 1887, Oregon was the first state to mark a day for people who work. Several more states followed, and in 1894, the U.S. Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.
Why is rest important?
We live in a world that needs us to be ready. More mass shootings, like the one in Texas on August 31, 2019, need a response. A hurricane careens through the Bahamas. Leading indicators suggest the economy is tightening. The Amazon is burning. Brexit. U.S. elections. The list of major events is long!
With so much happening in the world, there is a lot of work to do. Robert Browning writes in his poem “Prospice”:
For sudden the worst turns the best to the braveRobert Browning “Prospice”
All the events around the world can seem like “the worst.” The challenges we face will require our best efforts and deepest creativity.
Can humanity rise to the challenges we face? I don’t know. But, today, we can take a break. We can be thankful to the nineteenth-century people who set aside the first Monday in September for rest. Take Labor Day and rest. Remember, we have an example of God at rest in Genesis.
Labor Day, Respite, & GodTomorrow, we go back to work and can try to make the world a better place.