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A Labor Day prayer for family-sustaining wages

A moral challenge for justice

Special to Presbyterian News Service

The following is a prayer from the Rev. Christian T. Iosso, who serves the Presbyterian Mission Agency as the coordinator for the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) and the senior editor of Justice Unbound. The ACSWP, according to its web page, “serves the prophetic calling of the whole Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by providing the General Assembly with careful studies of pressing moral challenges, media for discussion and discernment of Christian responsibilities, and policy recommendations for faithful action.”

O God,

You are the Maker of all things visible and invisible, and before your eyes nothing is hidden. The “hidden injuries of class,” the thin paychecks we conceal, the debt loads that limit our hopes; Indwelling God, you know these burdens and how unevenly they fall.

We pray for our employers to provide more of what the Social Creed (2008) calls a “family-sustaining” wage. This would be a living wage, but not just for one individual, for we are called to raise children of your covenant, people who will worship, witness to and share in your care for creation. To raise children, and to partner each other, we need more time than working two jobs allows. Be with us when we stand up for our rights, and when we oppose even artfully outsourced oppression.

How hard it is for us to apply the idea of your calling to so many grinding, grimy and repetitive occupations. You call us to a fullness of life that includes some creativity, companionship and adequate compensation. Forgive us when we worship the rich and famous through admiration and do not question the medieval levels of inequality between the billions who make $2 a day, and billionaires who make — or take — too much.

Indwelling God, you meet us in our moral imaginations and the visions you inspire.

When did we pay you fairly, above a cruelly frozen minimum wage?

When did we honor your picket line?

When did we insist you get benefits and a full pension?

When did we give you pay equity?

When did we give you maternity or family leave?

Great God, the Earth is your dwelling place, and we have seen your incarnation in a working man. Just as Jesus worked in his day to the fullest, let us work while it is yet day. And let us be part of your economy of salvation, where labor is never simply a commodity, and where no one works for cash alone, but out of genuine desire to serve.


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