For Labor Day

Monday, September 5, 2011 — Week of Proper 18, Year One

Gregorio Aglipay, Priest and Founder of the Philippine Independent Church, 1940

Labor Day

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 982)

Psalms 41, 52 (morning) 44 (evening)

1 Kings 13:1-10

Philippians 1:1-11

Mark 15:40-47

A Collect for Labor Day (BCP, p. 261

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and around our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

From Tilden Edwards, Living Simply Through the Day


But how do we serve? Especially how do we simply serve? We are pressed from every side with opportunities and challenges: in our work, our family life, with friends, with materially and emotionally destitute people, with animals and plants, with social, political, and economic structures crying for justice. Then there are those cries from within: our own bodies and minds crying for nourishment.


As with our prayer and spiritual development as a whole, it is our basic attitude that is most important, the same attitude is needed for everything else: patient attentiveness. Just as we do no wait for God but on God, so we do not wait for but on others. Even those who are closest to us remain surprising mysteries. If we think we know others and their needs perfectly well, our form of service is likely to be oppressive: we will act out of our assumptions and give them what we think they need, which more than likely is a projection of our own needs. Our greatest service to others will be to give them “space”: to provide an environment which will help free their spirits to unfold and their bodies to heal. (Paulist Press, p. 162)

Edwards footnotes Thomas Merton’s Contemplation in a World of Action, Doubleday, 1971) — Thomas Merton in his own way elaborates on this danger, and integrally ties together awareness and action, when he says: “He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressivity, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means.”

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