In church on Sunday (Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL), we read the following litany. As we reflected on the labor of workers in our society, it caused me to think more deeply about the meaning of Labor Day and to truly thank God for those who work to make my life more comfortable. The Interfaith Worker Justice organization publishes materials for churches who would like to celebrate all workers on Labor Day.
Labor in the Pulpits Litany
Leader: Today we celebrate workers and their contributions. Just as people in our sacred texts had varying jobs, we recognize the various gifts of workers today. We celebrate those in agricultural and food service.
All: We give thanks for the work of your hands. May God bless the crops and animals that they might be plentiful. May the fields, factories, grocery stores, and restaurants be safe and healthy places of work. And may we strive to reform those workplaces that are unsafe and unfair in their treatment of the workers.
Leader: We celebrate those in helping professions: medical professionals, teachers, social workers, and legal assistants.
All: We give thanks for the work of your hands. May God bless you so that through you others may thrive. Forgive the places that have been neglected due to injustice. Give us strength and courage to work toward fair access to services for all God’s children and just treatment of those who give so freely of themselves.
Leader: We celebrate those who work in factories and building professions.
All: We give thanks for the work of your hands. May God bless you and your work that allows us to have safe shelter and vehicles, even as some of your working conditions are unsafe. We support your struggle for just wages and working conditions so that you too may be safe.
Leader: We celebrate those who work from the home: caring for children, elderly, and infirmed.
All: We give thanks for the work of your hands. May God bless your work and give you strength to carry on when the work is challenging. Our culture may not recognize fully your jobs as work, but we know that your work is often challenging. We will work with you for the respect you deserve.
Leader: We celebrate those who work in cleaning professions.
All: We give thanks for the work of your hands. May God bless you and the work you do. Through your work our hotels, offices, and streets are cleaned and prepared for our use, and yet
we often do not see you and the strenuous effort required of you. Forgive us for not recognizing your contributions. We support you and your struggle for fair and just wages and benefits.
Leader: We celebrate those who wish to work but are unable to due to injury, illness, disability, or lack of access to jobs or transportation.
All: May God bless you and give you perseverance in this struggle. We repent for the ways in which we may have contributed to your situation. We support you and will journey with you in the process of searching for opportunities for work.
Leader: Let us pray:
All: Creator God, who created all things from the work of your hands, we commend to you all workers, those named here and those who remain unnamed. Forgive us for the ways we contribute to injustice perpetrated on workers and on your creation. Carpenter Jesus, who draws us into your work with the marginalized, call us into your work of justice that we might change our own unjust ways and work toward fair and just treatment of workers. Powerful Holy Spirit, who empowers us for the journey, move in our lives and in our work that we might persevere in the face of injustice and claim the power you have bestowed upon us to work for justice.