Last Monday we celebrated Labor Day. According to the US Department of Labor, Labor Day is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” As followers of Jesus we are called to labor too. God desires us to use our gifts for God in service to God’s plans for redemption of the world. In Ecclesiastes it is affirmed that even though sometimes we labor not seeing the big picture, that God makes “everything beautiful in its time.” As such, we are called to enjoy life… to eat, drink and work with joy… knowing that God’s blessings and beauty will flow through what we do. In today’s Gospel lesson we encounter the parable of laborers in the vineyard. Here different workers are hired at different times through the day. In the end, they get the same wage—and the ones who start last get paid first! Lots to chew on here! As I reflect on this scripture, I do know one thing…. It is never too late to give one’s life to God’s service… or to recommit one’s life. In my ministry, I have had the opportunity to baptize fifth generation members in the same church and to work with persons in their 90’s as they come to a relationship with the Lord. One thing is constant… God loves us all and calls us by name in due time and season. And in the end for the faithful, there comes abundant and eternal life. And we receive abundant life not from hard work… but from grace… The grace that is evidenced as we break bread and drink from the cup of Communion today. Jesus labored to the death and God raised him to show what we can expect. So may you find joy in your “toil” for the Lord. May you, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). May we serve well in this community together, learning from our teachers, being cared for by our caregivers and encouragers, being led wisely by our leaders, and being inspired by those who sing and proclaim God’s Word in worship. Sometimes our service seems like “toil,” but in the end, we receive much more than we deserve… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). May you find joy in labor … and in the grace of God in Jesus!