September 23rd, 2019

By the Way: Back to school, back to life

By Pastor Jim Bredeson on September 7, 2019.

The September long weekend somewhat ironically named Labour Day (ironic because it is marked by not labouring!) marks the end of our annual cultural sabbatical. Vacations are coming to an end. School starts. Church life resumes in earnest. Even if you no longer have children in school (like me), there still is a sense that life starts up.

I recently was in Rwanda. In that tropical country immediately below the equator, the concept of a summer lull in activities was a foreign idea. I had to reiterate that there was little I could do to promote the work there until September.

A couple of weeks ago, the Rev. Jeff Lackie wrote in this space about the importance of taking a sabbath. Inherent in the idea of a sabbatical from work is the reality that a resumption of work is about to begin. So, with the return to real life that September brings along with the Labour Day weekend we just celebrated, let’s take a look at the importance of work.

The best place to start is where the Bible itself starts, in Genesis. Genesis is absolutely foundational to understanding what God’s purposes for humanity are, and, why it has gone awry. Genesis begins the story of God’s search for humanity and his desire for relationship with us.

The purpose of work is seen in Genesis 2:15. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it.” The best translation of this really is “to conserve and to continue to conceive it.” Humans were created in the image of God. As such, we are intended for creativity and productivity. Human happiness is best expressed when we are meeting our potential in creative and fruitful ways.

But what happened? Well, in a word, sin. Through human disobedience relationships were broken including most of all our relationship with God. This broken relationship sets into motion the rest of the story of the Bible which culminates in the cross of Christ and His triumphal return. But this broken relationship had ramifications beyond.

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

The coming of Jesus restored our relationship with God through faith. It also brings insight into our own labour. Jesus worked in this world as a carpenter no doubt using his human ingenuity and creativity along the way. We can recover the dignity and purpose of work as we see it as our creative release, our way of serving God and each other.

Pastor Jim Bredeson is senior pastor at Victory Lutheran Church.

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