Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

A Responsive Prayer for Labor Day

Tomorrow is Labor Day here in the U.S. (that’s Labour Day to UK and Commonwealth readers).  This responsive prayer is written by my friend, Rev. Ken Sehested, one of the pastors of Circle of Mercy congregation in Asheville, NC. Ken, who for nearly 2 decades was Executive Director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, wrote this  prayer as part of his new book,  In the Land of the Living: Prayers Personal and Public.  We prayed it responsively in church  today.

Labor Day

Creator God, we give thanks this day for work:

for work that sustains; for work that fulfills;

for work which, however tiring, also satisfies

and resonates with Your labor in creation.


As part of our thanks we intercede

for those who  have  no work,

who have too much  or  too little work,

who work at jobs that demean or destroy,

work that profits the  few

at the expense of the many.


Blessed One, extend your redemptive purpose

in  the many and varied places of our work.

In factory or field, in shelterd office

or under open sky,  using technical knowledge

or physical strength,  working with machines

 or with people or with the  earth itself.


Together we promise:

To bring the full weight of our intelligence

and strength  to our work.

Together we promise:

To make our place of work a place of safety

and respect for all with whom we labor.

Together we refuse:

To engage in work that harms another,

that promotes injustice  or violence,

that damages the earth or otherwise

betrays the common good;

or to resign ourselves to economic

arrangements that widen  the gap

between rich and poor.

Together we affirm:

The rights of all to work that both

fulfills  and  sustains; to just wages

and to contentment.

Together we affirm:

That the redeeming and transforming

power of the Gospel, will  all its

demands for justice and its promises

of mercy, is as relevant to  the workplace

as  to the sanctuaries of faith and family.


We make these promises,

we speak these refusals

and we offer these affirmations

as offering to You,  O God–

who labors with purpose and

lingers in laughter–in response

to your ever-present grace, as

symbols of our ongoing repentance

and transformation, and in hope

that one day all the world

shall eat and be satisfied.


September 6, 2009 Posted by | faith, labor, liturgy | Comments Off on A Responsive Prayer for Labor Day