"Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor:  Be present with your people where they work..."




The Origins of Labor Day
The first observance of Labor Day is believed to have been a parade of 10,000 workers on Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, organized by Peter J. McGuire, a Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary. By 1893, more than half the states were observing “Labor Day” on one day or another, and Congress passed a bill to establish a federal holiday in 1894. President Grover Cleveland signed the bill soon afterward, designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day.

While a national holiday (and not a religious day), we can remember all those who labor and toil for the good of all our communities. You can offer special prayers such as these:

Creator Lord, the source of all wisdom and purpose, and the blessing of those who labor; be with us in our work to guide and govern our world. Give to all people work that enhances human dignity and bonds us to one another. Give us pride in our work, a fair return for our labor, and joy in knowing that our work finds its source in you; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

O God, through human labors you continually perfect the immense work of your creation. Listen to the prayers of your people, and grant to everyone employment that calls us to our best and unite us with each other, so that we can serve our brothers and sisters, and your world, through our work. This we ask through your Son Jesus Christ, who lives in unity with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor:  Be present with your people where they work; make those who carry on the industries and commerce of his land responsive to your will; and give to us all a pride in what we do, and a just return for our labor; through Jesus Chris tour Lord, who lives and reigns with you , in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  (Book of Common Prayer, pg. 259)

You can also offer litanies, such as this one, adapted from Liturgy by TLW:

Litany of Labor

Leader: Let us pray to the Lord of all creation, from who come life, work and purpose.
Almighty God, when you lovingly formed us out of the dust of the earth, you breathed into us the breath of life and gave us work and purpose for living.

C. You placed Adam in the garden of Eden to till and keep it.

L: Through our work, you make us co-creators with you, shaping the world in which we live.

C. You gave dignity to our labor by sending your Son to labor with us.

L. By our labor, the world is enriched.

C. By our labor, we enjoy the fruits of creation.

L. For providing varieties of work and for blessing us by our labor:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

L. For those who plow the field; for farmers and farm workers, for those who work with their hands and those who move the earth, for all who provide food for others:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

L. For those who tend the sick and those who seek new cures; for doctors and nurses, for scientists and technicians; for all who work to care for the sick:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

L. For those who design and create; for inventors and explorers, for artists and musicians; for those who write books and those who entertain; for all who open windows on their world through art and music:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

L. For those who work in offices and those who work in warehouses; for secretaries and receptionists, for stockers and bookkeepers; for those who market products and for those who move them; for all who serve others through administration:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

L. For those who inspire our minds and those who motivate us; for teachers and preachers, for public servants and religious servants; those who help the poor and those who work with our children; for all who encourage us to learn:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

L. For those whose labor is tidiness and cleanliness; for janitors and sanitary workers, for drycleaners and maids; for those who produce cleaning products and those who use them; for all those who add beauty and cleanliness to your world:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

L. For those who sail the waves and those who fly the skies; for captains and attendants, for astronauts and deep sea divers; for those who chart and those who navigate:

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

L.  For those who serve in the armed forces; for soldiers and airmen; sailors and marines; for all those who put themselves in harms way to protect others:

C:  We give you thanks, O Lord.

L. You bless us all with skills and gifts for labor.

C. You provide us opportunities to use them, for the benefit of others as well as ourselves and the growth of your Kingdom on earth.

L. Guard and protect those who labor in the world.

C. Bless the work of our hands, O Lord.

L. Send your special favor on the unemployed, the under-employed and the disabled, that they may find work that enriches their lives and provides for their families.

C. Give health to the sick, hope to the bereaved.

L. Keep us from laboring for ourselves alone.

C. Make us loving and responsible in all that we do.


Carolyn Moomaw Chilton writes and blogs as a spiritual discipline and an invitation to conversation with others. She is currently on staff at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia as the Assistant for Evangelism and Stewardship.

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