Labor Day is quickly approaching, and this coming Sunday Service is an opportunity for you to curate your sermon to include some aspect of the holiday everyone's already talking about. This blog post gives you several ways to contextualize Labor Day with Christianity and Bible scripture so your church members carry the Sunday message with them more easily throughout Labor Day week. Simply click the table of contents below to jump to any part of the article you're most interested in, or read through it all to prepare for your sermon this weekend.
- What is Labor Day
- Three Sermon Ideas for Labor Day
- Three Ways to Talk About Labor Day During Church
- Labor Day Sermon Illustrations and Graphics
- Five Labor Day Sermon Examples
- Fifteen Scriptures for Labor Day
What Is Labor Day?
Labor Day has been an American federal holiday since 1894, and falls annually on the first Monday of September. This year Labor Day is September 6, 2021.
Other than Beers, Brats, and BBQs, Labor Day signifies the end of Summer for many American families. It is a holiday unlike any other, as it celebrates and upholds American labor, hard work, and traditional values of “The American Dream”. One thing that makes the United States unique is the opportunity presented to many who have worked hard toward some goal, like manual labor, starting businesses, breaking generational poverty, and furthering education. In his 1931 book “Lesson Plan: The American Dream”, historian James Truslow Adams wrote “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” It is with this famous quote that the idea of Labor Day comes to life throughout its rich history.
History: Where Does Labor Day Come From?
Labor Day is a federal holiday celebrated across America and originates in a bleak and tumultuous series of events in the late 1800s. Especially during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, labor laws were ill-defined (or non-existent) and families often worked 12 or more hours every day to provide for their families. Harsh working conditions, poorly ventilated mines and factories, and little to no access to basic facilities were a common workplace pandemonium for adults and children alike, sometimes for those as young as 5 years old.
During the height of poor American workplace conditions in the late 1800s, labor unions gained greater footing than they had in previous years. It was during this time history shows more successfully organized strikes and rallies intended to push back against worker wages and poor workplace conditions.
Some of the most notable strikes turned quite violent, including the Haymarket Riot in 1886. As strikes and marches continued, the inaugural “Labor Day Parade” occurred; over 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to Union Square in New York City on September 5, 1882. This was a pivotal moment in American history, and was the official beginning of "Labor Day". It wasn't until 1894 that Labor Day was recognized as an official federal holiday.
Still, nearly 140 years after that fateful march, the United States recognizes a day each year in September to commemorate the labor movement and the freedoms in the United States surrounding workplace conditions, labor laws, workman’s wages, and more.
3 Labor Day Sermon Ideas
Now, over 139 years later, how do we contextualize this holiday into a Christian context and speak about it during church on Sunday? While the holiday itself is not specifically a Christian holiday, there are a number of great ways to incorporate Labor Day into your Sunday Sermon. Here are 3 Labor Day Sermon Ideas to celebrate Labor Day with your church.
1. God worked, and we are made in his image to work.
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15
From the earliest parts of the Bible, God himself worked and built all of creation. He then tasks humans to bear his image and work in the Garden. When we read the story of Genesis and God’s relationship with Adam and Eve, we see a beautiful illustration of the privilege God gives to Adam and Eve to work. Working together was an opportunity for them to be creative, tend to the livestock and animals, and coexist alongside each other and God in perfect harmony. This was God’s original plan for humanity before the fall. Work, in its purest form, is an opportunity for us to display the image of God through the toil and labor of our hands, whether you’re farming in a field or mining crypto for the New York Stock Exchange. Hard work was a privilege for Adam and Eve, and is still a privilege for us to this day.
2. How we work is a reflection of who we follow.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. . .” Colossians 3:23
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” Ephesians 6:7
Many people have memories of that one job that just wasn’t easy to work, whether it was the job itself, the supervisor, the conditions, the location, or something else entirely. Some reading this might describe their current role in those ways. Paul the Apostle writes in a specific historical context in Colossians and Ephesians, during a time that slaves (or bondservants) served their earthly masters, and he calls them to do so as though they are working directly for God himself. It can be difficult for Americans to read these two scriptures above in their appropriate context because we have a lot of history in our country (e.g. The Civil War) that can cause us to think through a much different lens of a slave/master relationship.
However, in the specific Biblical context, the slave working for their master would have been a bit closer to our modern day understanding of an employee working for their employer. If Paul were writing to us exactly, he might phrase the passage as, “Whatever job you have, work at it with all your heart, as though you’re working for God himself, not for your supervisor, or CEO, or for the bottom dollar, or just to get a paycheck.”
If we as Christians approach our job roles with this mindset and attitude, we will truly be the “city on a hill” (Matthew 5:14). People will notice our Christian values when we serve in our roles dutifully and loyally as though working for the Lord.
"For we are co-workers in God’s service. . ." 1 Corinthians 3:9
3. Hard, Godly work ethic provides opportunities to share your faith with others.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
The typical American approach to working is to live for Friday evenings, and to dread Monday mornings. For Christians who wish to please God with their lives, hearts, and attitudes, we have an opportunity in our work-life to live counter-culturally. While others show up to work on Monday with a headache and bad attitude, you as a follower of Jesus have a great opportunity to wear a smile on your face and to be particularly helpful to your employees, colleagues, or supervisor.
Three ways to break the ice on Monday mornings and open the door to more deeply connect with your colleagues:
- For a colleague: Hey ______, I hope your weekend went well; can I grab you a coffee?
- For your employees: Good morning everyone, I know we have a really long week ahead of us, so I wanted to send this quick email to let you all know how much I appreciate your hard work (proceed with writing 1-2 things about each person in your department and why you value their work).
- For your department: Hey guys, I brought in 2 dozen donuts and set them in the conference room. I appreciate you all! Let me know if I can do anything to help you with something this week.
Sometimes opening the door to friendly conversation (and sometimes even sharing your faith!) is as easy as an unsolicited cup of coffee for your co-worker. When you regularly knock on that door to show you are available, people will remember and begin to wonder why you go above and beyond in your role. Eventually the opportunity will present itself for you to share why you do what you do: “Well, because I’m a Christian. Here is what that means to me.”
3 Ways to Talk About Labor Day During Sunday Service
Whether your congregation is incredibly diverse or not, everyone in the pews will likely have a different understanding of Labor Day and its significance. You may choose to have a full Sunday service planned around Labor Day, or you might only simply acknowledge it: “Tomorrow is Labor Day – I hope you all got your meats on the smoker!”
Either way, as it is a federal holiday, it might be a good idea to figure out in advance how you’re going to incorporate some callout or sermon point into your overall Sunday lesson.
Three ways to talk about Labor Day during service
- Have a guest speaker or two share for 5 minutes about how they have used their job roles to effectively share about Jesus.
- Make Labor Day Sunday a “bring your coworker to church” Day. Go big! Have a church-wide potluck or BBQ after service and make the service special.
- Make your whole sermon or message about working for God. Incorporate the Labor Day theme into your whole Sunday service; be creative and make it memorable.
Labor Day Sermon Illustrations & Graphics
Yes, we have some Labor Day graphics! At Tithe.ly, we’ve got you covered. Our personal favorite church media curation (Bias? No way!) with a download limit of infinity, you will never run out of awesome new content ever again. Whether you’re looking to up your Instagram game, add some flavor to your church streaming, or simply inspire your own members with your internal church bulletin, Tithe.ly has media content for every situation. Sign up and save some of your favorites so you can use and reuse your go-tos.
ShareFaith has a media package curated for Labor Day, with templates for worship slides, a Welcome packet, and more.
Igniter Media has several Labor Day packages that might have everything you need for your Sunday service.
5 Labor Day Sermons
- Labor Day Sermon, Derrick McQueen, Poverty Scholar and PhD candidate at Union Theological Seminary
- ePreacher: The Working Christian
- Labor Day, Rick Boyne, Sermon Central
- Lots of Labor Day sermons to choose from
- First Christian Church, Labor Day
15 Scriptures For Labor Day
All passages from NIV unless otherwise noted.
- “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
- “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3
- “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23
- “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Proverbs 12:11
- “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:3
- “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15
- “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
- “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
- “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” Psalm 128:1-2
- “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
- “So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?” Ecclesiastes 3:22
- “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
- “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
- “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23
- “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10
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Daniel Berk is the Managing Editor at Tithely. A student and teacher of the Bible, he is a lover of theology, church history, and... TV. Daniel and his wife Courtney reside with their Bernedoodle in Charleston, SC.
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