The photo here is an iconic image. Taken in September of 1932, as the Great Depression was bearing down on our nation. This photo was snapped of workers eating lunch 70 stories above the ground while constructing what we know now as 30 Rock (30 Rockefeller Center).
Turns out, the photo was staged. It is likely there was a sturdy surface below the workers would one of them fall. But the image, taken 89 years ago, still resonates with the grit and determination of workers, likely recent immigrants, building, laboring, in the face of growing uncertainty and insecure future. Themselves and their children likely to soon be in uniform, heading back across the Atlantic to defeat fascism.
Today, Sept 6, 2021 is Labor Day in our nation. A day set aside as a national holiday to honor those who labor. Who bear in their bodies the labor, the work, the physical cost, to produce our daily bread. I will forever be indebted to the Rev. Prof. Charles Amjad-Ali, Ph.D., Th.D., ordained in the Church of Pakistan, who taught at Luther Seminary when I was a student there.
Prof. Amjad-Ali drilled into us the understanding that labor is something that costs the body of the laborer. The delivery of a child is labor that exacts a toll on the mother’s body. The labor of the worker in the field, the coal mine, the yard crew, the hospital worker, exacts another toll. Labor is something to be honored because Christ labored for us on the Cross. Bearing in his body the pain and reality of our death. Laboring so we may in death see life.
So a blessed Labor Day to you all. Take a moment to think about, particularly in this era of pandemic, whose labor your life relies on. Who are the “essential workers” in your life whose labor you might not have recognized 18 months ago as essential? This pandemic has taught us many things, challenged us in many ways, and I pray it makes us more aware of and grateful for those who labor. #NTNL #InMissionTogether