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Necessary Tasks, Romans 12:9-21 & Matthew 16:21-28

Pentecost 14A, Sept. 3, 2023

Theme: Work Ethic

By J. Lemert Whitmer

Have you ever had one of those tasks you knew needed accomplished, but were having difficulty motivating yourself to do it? Maybe it’s a muggy day and the mowing needs done?

If you put off mowing the lawn, you will wish you had gone ahead and done it. If you go ahead and mow the lawn, it might have been twice as difficult to accomplish, but it is a chore completed.

Sometimes just going to work can seem like a laborious task.

Well, September 4th is Labor Day. It is historically a day dedicated to the legalization of labor unions in the USA. In a way, making a day a holiday which was set aside recognizing workers’ rights seems somehow – wrong.

But nowadays it is more like just a holiday – one last chance to get a fling at the beach, or a cookout before school starts in earnest....

Today, perhaps we should be setting the day aside for a slightly different purpose.

After people had a break from the usual grind of working sometimes two jobs, the pandemic came along and changed everything. Except for a few, many had to either work from home or stop working at all. For almost two years, most of the population had the chance to enjoy getting reacquainted with their families and friends. For those people, their work ethic changed. They decided to stay home. Some even stopped working altogether.

Companies, schools and even hospitals now find themselves short on staff. There are long waiting lists for cars, farm implements, surgery equipment, and many other essential items. Orders are piling up and essential parts are impossible to find.

When company managers are asked, they complain there are not enough skilled people applying for jobs. Skilled workers complain salaries are not high enough to cover everyday expenses.

Enough of my rave!

In the Matthew text, we find Jesus warning his followers that he is ready to go to Jerusalem. He explains that this would be an extremely dangerous venture for him and anyone who accompanies him. Peter, a contentious friend, pulls him aside and suggests he really does not have to go. Jesus gets angry with Peter. He calls him Satan.

Is Jesus afraid of facing a future he most certainly knows is coming? Is it possible? Being part human, the fear of facing death would be a natural emotion. Going to Jerusalem would have been a task he would have wanted to ignore.

Labor Day can be an opportunity to realize there are sometimes tasks and jobs which need to be done. Children need to be taught, roads need to be built, crops need to be planted and harvested, manufacturing plants need skilled workers.

I suggest the above list of tasks can seem unusually demanding. They do not compare to the task Jesus faced.

Join us Sunday in one of our worship services where we will meditate on our unwanted tasks.

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