"Over against all that reason suggests or would measure and fathom, yes, all that our senses feel and perceive, we must learn to cling to the Word and simply judge according to it."


- Martin Luther




Luther's Rose


I wish most importantly to state a case for Christ and His Cross for the unbeliever, but I also wish to make the case for both the unbeliever and the "blessedly inconsistent" towards the true apostolic and catholic teachings of the blessed and orthodox Lutheran Church.



SOLI DEO GLORIA



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Do not worry about the date it was written.

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Some Thoughts About Labor Day


With labor day approaching, I began wondering where this holiday began in the first place. I've also been thinking about those who do not have a job, like myself, are feeling about an overwhelmingly dry jobs market. And, in summation, what does our employment status mean in relationship to our Christian faith. Oh, and did I ever tell you what a scatter brain I can be? (Sheesh!)


A Brief History of Labor Day:

Looking at this holiday, I began to wonder why America, a predominantly capitalistic nation, would celebrate a day solely dedicated to its labor force. It would seem more befitting for us to have a holiday honoring the small business owner, considering that they comprise 70% of the compacity within the entire U.S. labor market. (I'm just saying that without them there are no jobs available to 70% of U.S. workers, and maybe we should give them the honor as opposed to the American worker, yet, I digress.) So, it occurred to me that this may be rooted in socialism, and upon researching further, it appears my suspicions were warranted.

I will let a pro-socialist explain it in her own words:

Remember the socialist origins of Labor Day!

For those of you heading off to celebrate the three-day weekend — and for those of you just heading to the backyard barbecue grill –— here’s a little reminder of the origins of Labor Day and the labor movement that it represents.

Though the first U.S. Labor Day was celebrated in New York City in 1882, President Glover Cleveland instituted the first national commemoration as an act of penance.

In 1894, Pullman porters called a wildcat strike against the railroads to protest a pay cut — a strike which eventually involved about 250,000 workers in 27 states. (Among the leaders of the strike was Eugene V. Debs, an actual, card-carrying socialist.) Several workers were killed by soldiers, and Cleveland put reconciling with trades unions at the top of his agenda. He rushed through Congress a bill making Labor Day a national holiday.

So, as you’re enjoying your barbecue and cold beer, your baseball and your Labor Day sales, just remember that the labor movement brought you the eight-hour day, the five-day work week and institutionalized vacations. And remember the socialist whose actions helped bring about Labor Day!


The Job Market Outlook:

There is the "official" unemployment numbers released every month (which currently states we are at 9.7% unemployment), but what is released does not account for the individuals who's unemployment benefits have been exhausted, and also under the shadow of a poor jobs market, have given up the search for employment. This is what is called a "shadow stat", i.e. something purposely hidden. The real rate is estimated at 16.8%!

Now, I for one can anecdotally confirm that the state of employment "out there" is rough. It seems the only businesses hiring are in extremely specialized fields like medicine, etc., or, high turn-over jobs like telemarketing, etc. For many people in my situation right now, out of the two said job realms, I would only qualify for the high-turnover ones. So, to take one would definitely be a step down from what I was doing before. This trend is becoming legion, even among those employed who would be more than agreeable to a pay reduction than face a lay-off. The sole reason for this is because of the dire jobs market, and what other people they know, who happen to be unemployed, are telling them. Folks, it's scary out there!

(Just as an aside, there's an interesting article on Veith's blog regarding the vocation of the unemployed.)


Regarding Vocation in General:

I read an interesting article written by Mark Kolden on Gustaf Wingren's book Luther on Vocation. I haven't personally read it but it sounds like an interesting read.

Anyway, there are some real gems from Kolden's essay, I will list the best ones.

"Vocation belongs to our situation between baptism and the final resurrection—a situation in which there are two kingdoms (earth and heaven, in Luther’s terminology), two contending powers (God and the devil), two antagonistic components within the Christian person (the old self and the new self),and when Christians are involved in constant struggle. Vocation is our calling in our situation in life, through which we serve God’s creative work by being under the law. It is the place in which the person of faith chooses sides in the ongoing combat between God and Satan. The “old self” must bear vocation’s cross as long as life on earth lasts and the battle against the devil continues.After death there will be anew kingdom free from the cross, heaven will take the place of earth, and the “new self” will be raised from the dead. "In this summary “vocation” refers to more than mere dedicated service in one’s occupation. It refers above all to the whole theater of personal, communal, and historical relationships in which one lives. The eschatological situation of struggle and ambiguity, the sense of the need for the Christian’s sinful self to be put to death within and by the demands of daily life in vocation, the choice involved in life lived in the freedom of being called by Christ, and the way in which this view holds creation and redemption together if it is to make any sense at all—these themes give a most promising basis for understanding Luther’s position."


*******

"On earth, the law (in its first use—guiding, compelling, leading us to good works, coercing, protecting, punishing) is a most excellent thing. It is the basis for a just and wholesome society. It is only where the law intrudes “in heaven” (that is, into our relationship with God in terms of our eschatological salvation) that Luther’s harsh criticisms of the law apply. Here it functions in a different way (in its second use—revealing our self-centeredness, our attempts to rely on our own works rather than on God’s free grace, our pride, and our rebellion against God). As long as the law remains “on earth” in our social relationships to our families, work, nation, etc., it is not only appropriate but necessary for the Christian and for all persons."


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"Just as God’s redemptive act in becoming incarnate affirms that salvation is not an escape from creation but a restoration and fulfillment of it, so also the Christian life will not be an escape from creaturely life but a calling to it. The call to follow Christ leads not to any religious vocation removed from daily life, but instead it transforms the attitude and understanding one has of the situation in which one already is. Luther began his thinking in this regard with 1 Corinthians 7:20: 'Everyone should remain in the state in which he was called.'"


*******

"If we read Luther with a naive literalness when he speaks of the Christian’s calling to family, work, and citizenship, then we might justify our modern irresponsible conformity. But in his day those were controversial words; they were the antithesis of the official Christian position, and they turned upside down many of the structures of society (cf. the destruction of much of the educational apparatus when the monasteries and cloisters were emptied). The need of the neighbor—and the neighbor as the one with the greatest need—was Luther’s criterion for making the calling a response to the God Who is doing new things, not a means of protection for oneself and one’s own group. That criterion could hardly be used to justify a way of life oriented merely toward surviving the coming lean years."


*******

Here are some other edifying on-line articles about vocation:

Luther on Vocatio: Ordinary Life for Ordinary Saints - by: Steven A. Hein

The Doctrine of Vocation: How God Hides -by: Gene Edward Veith

Also, two prayers on this labor day, one for the employed and one for the unemployed:

For the Employed*

Heavenly Father, Thou art the Foreman and the Giver of our every duty. Teach us to go to our appointed tasks as working for Thee and not as mere men-pleasers. We ask Thee to let Thy Word have free course among all conditions of men that peace and good will may prevail in all places. May Thy grace create in us an undying faith in Thee, and make us willing, one an all, to render a greater service to Thee. Remove all discord and suspicion and dissension, all class conflict and hatred and race prejudice. Give us the necessary ability to render genuine service to Thee and our fellow men. Give us the grace to appreciate one another at work, and quicken our hearts with joy as we perform our daily tasks, mindful that we all are dependent upon one another in human society. Bless all efforts peaceably to allay strife. Destroy all selfishness, greed, and dishonesty. Give us the grace to respect the rights of others and give credit to whom credit is due. Above all remind us that here we build no enduring city, but are pilgrims and strangers in this world who must one day lay down our tools to appear before Thy judgment throne to give an account to Thee. May we then be found faithful stewards and live in Thy presence forevermore.


Amen.


For the Unemployed*


Heavenly Father, I entreat Thine aid and encouragement in these days of unemployment. I beseech Thee to give me a fuller measure of faith in the promises of Thy Word. Grant that I may live trustingly one day at a time, knowing that thou wilt not fail me. Even the little which I receive I accept with grateful heart. Protect me from the dangers of enforced idleness, unnecessary worry, and sleepless nights. Restore to our community and land normal conditions that we all may find the necessary employment. Root out greed, selfishness, and all other social distress in human society. Grant success, earnestness, sobriety, and skill to those that are employed. Heavenly Father, Thou hast blessed man's labors, and even Thy Son dwelled in a workman's home an toiled in the carpenter shop and hallowed the simple duties of life. I pray Thee, satidfy the hungry with bread, and open Thy hands to give me my daily bread. In Jesus' name.

Amen.

(*from, Lutheran Book of Prayer, Concordia Publishing House, 1951, 21st printing)
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