In this month of September we celebrate a holiday called, Labor Day. It’s original intent was to celebrate, to pay homage to the laborer: i.e. the factory worker, the electrician, the stone mason, the assembly line worker, etc. But over the years it has kind of lost its original intent.
So, to kind of bring us back to what this holiday is really all about, let me tell you about a phone call I got the other day from a good friend. I recognized the number, it was my good friend and mentor Martin Luther, the 16th century reformer. We talked about family, work, baseball, and what was up with these last three Star Wars movies.
“Joe,” he continued, he always called me Joe, “I think you folks in the good old USA have kind of lost the significance of Labor Day. Perhaps what you should do is re-name it to, ‘The Priesthood of All Believers Day.’”
The Priesthood of All Believers was a concept that Marty had developed during the Reformation. In short what he meant by that was, everyone has a vocation (life calling from God). No vocation is more important than any other. The stone mason, the pastor, the lawyer, the teacher, the plumber, the stay at home parent, the farmer, the doctor, the sanitation expert, all are called by God to a ministry. Each one of us is called, is chosen by God for a particular way to serve, to share the faith through our vocations.
Luther said that in reality our vocations were not only ways to serve people, but to serve God as well. Each one of us has his own ministry. The pastor has a Word and Sacrament ministry, the doctor a healing ministry. the lawyer a justice ministry. The farmer a ministry of feeding people, the teacher. a ministry of education. The builder is not just building a house or an office for people, but he is building a building for God.
Marty said, “If each one of us truly believed that we were called to our vocations by God, then as we carried out our vocations we would understand that we were not just serving people, but serving God as well and just think how different would be the way you look at your vocation.”
Psalm 127: 1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
So, on this first Monday in September both Martin Luther and I wish you a “Happy Priesthood of all believers day.”