"And 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 (NIV)
In 1882, U.S. cabinet maker Peter McGuire introduced his idea for a new holiday saying, "Let us have a festive day during which a parade through the streets of the city would permit public tribute to American industry."
Several states designated a day to recognize workers with a holiday. Then on June 28, 1894, by an act of Congress, the first Monday of September was designated as "Labor Day," creating a Federal holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed the act into law. Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer vacation and provides many Americans with the opportunity to have a long weekend for an end of summer trip, or a cookout with friends.
When I was young, I remember my father saying that every day was a "labor day" for him! And I also remember that school always started classes the day after Labor Day!
A day off from labor, however, was not a new concept when Labor Day was officially designated as a holiday. The concept of a day of rest was first declared by the Lord in Genesis. Scripture tells us that God rested the seventh day after creating the world, and He deemed the day of rest as holy. He didn't call it Labor Day - He called it the Sabbath.
Sabbath is a not a day of tribute to workers, it's a day of tribute to their Maker. It's a day to rest your body while renewing your mind. It’s a day to focus on your Maker and your relationship with Him. In the Jewish tradition, the Sabbath is the focal point of the week - not just a day of laundry or list-making to gear back up for the week ahead. The Jewish people spent three days preparing for Sabbath, and then, three days reflecting on what they had learned or encountered with God during the Sabbath. They were a Sabbath-focused people, and therefore a God-focused people.
Keri Wyatt Kent, author of Breathe, writes, "This creates a rhythm of life that puts our focus, not on our 'stuff' or our 'schedule,' but on the opportunity to meet with God."
Kent also writes: "We are created in the image of God, and he modeled for us a way of life that makes sense for how we are created. Here's how to dance the dance of life," he said: "Work, be creative, use your imagination, throw yourself into it, whether you are washing dishes, reading to your kids and running a household, working at your job, or running a business. At the end of each day, stop. Take a rest, eat a good meal, get enough sleep, and refresh yourself. Take time to think about your day, to notice where God was in it and where you were blessed, and to say, 'It's good.' Then go back at it the next day. And after six days, take a whole day off. And say, 'It's really good.' Spend a whole day just pausing, just reflecting on how really good God is, and then start the dance again, at a sustainable pace."
That sounds really good to me. So, may this Labor Day mark the day that you and I decide to rest and become God-focused people. Happy Labor Day! Be sure to take your family to church on Sunday!
(Parts of this devotion were taken from an article by Rachel Olsen.)