September 5, 2011
Holidays aren't part of the “universal calendar;" I know you knew that.
Granted, Christmas and Easter are pretty common… unless, of course, you're in the middle of some of those 3+ billion Muslims/Hindus/Chinese Communists who don't buy their wall calendars from Hallmark. Even among the billion or so in the "Christian" world, Christmas and Easter aren't shared space: the Jehovah's Witnesses don't "do" Christmas, and the Orthodox community celebrates Easter on a variant date.
Get past the religious festivals, and it isn't much easier. Independence Day? A number of those around the world, with a few new ones probable after our recent “Arab Spring.” They all remember different political turning points, on different dates. In Canada, if you wait until late November to stuff the turkey, you missed Thanksgiving (theirs is weeks earlier!). Presidents' Day? Don't even go there…
With unemployment in America now “officially” reported at 9.1% (underemployment and no-longer-looking bloat that to double-digits), it’s hard to hold a Labor Day party without the risk of offense. Would a friend suffering the after-effects of an unwanted divorce be happy at a Valentines Day shindig?
Being out-of-work is a challenging thing. I've always found myself invited into close proximity with men who – through their professional disconnection – become vulnerable, disclosed… and less self-sufficient. I've seen many of them move up my relational scale from acquaintance to friends… as we journeyed through the process of their employment transitions.
Often-cited psychologist Abraham Maslow found that work was so important to Americans that its loss – either through unemployment or retirement – had a calculable effect on one's lifeline. Take away a full-time identity from a high-energy person… and, you run the risk of taking away their reason for being. That isn't call-in-radio speculation; that's fact, proven through research.
We gauge the health of countries by the employment/ unemployment statistics. We Americans are only a few percentage points off our high-water-mark from the last boom… but, election campaigns are long-shots for presidents who lead during employment declines. We're a nation that lives to work…
There are no arguments on that subject when you put the matter on the conference table with our generation of high-capacity, driven pros. We twitch when we're off; we live to turn the cellphone back on, after a day-off for Labor. We live to matter, and we matter when we work.
Jesus was as focused regarding his work as any man or woman who ever drew a breath. He couldn't even bring himself to take the Sabbath day "off;" he did some of his best work on those holidays. He healed a blind man on a Sabbath and got into major conflict with the head guys down at the Temple. His explanation? "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." (John 9:4) He worked for three years – steadily – and then called home to tell his father that he had brought him "… glory on earth by completing the work (he) gave (him) to do." (John 17:4). Jesus knew what his work was; he was committed to it, and he didn't take many days off.
Here's a sobering statistic: among American Christians, the unemployment rate in Kingdom activity is approaching 80%. God’s work is being done by 20%; the rest are on "welfare." Even among the workers, many are underemployed: men and women created by God to provide leadership, who are instead waiting tables in the fellowship hall.
Just imagine: what would happen if – in the Kingdom – we only had 9% unemployment?