Why Work?

Why Work?

In the last few years, my sermons have focused less on the lectionary and more on Scripture series, like preaching through the gospel of John over the last year, and our current series on the Ten Commandments. I love that kind of sustained attention to a single book or portion of Scripture, and the way it lends itself to greater continuity and depth in preaching.

Yet I still love the lectionary for its attention to the church year, especially the seasonal emphases on Advent-Christmas-Epiphany and Lent-Easter-Pentecost. I love the way the lectionary draws people and churches together–for church meetings in Kansas one year, I was billeted with a couple from different church backgrounds, so on the Sunday morning we went first to his Catholic Church and then to her Mennonite Church. In both, we read the same lectionary texts, which my church in Abbotsford was also reading that same morning.

So when I received an invitation to write for The Christian Century lectionary column, I happily accepted. (And by the way, I just love The Christian Century tagline, “Thinking Critically, Living Faithfully”) Here’s the start of my first column that appears in the August 5, 2015 issue:

Why Work? (Ephesians 4:25-5:2)

When I was in high school, my physics teacher asked if I would be interested in a part-time, after-school job getting science equipment ready for an evening class. I was excited to tell my parents about what I thought was a great opportunity—a chance to put my classroom learning to good use, get some solid work experience, and earn some money of my own. There seemed to be no downside. How could I turn down such a good offer?

To my surprise, my mom and dad were decidedly not in favor of my taking on a job. In their view, my own schoolwork outranked any part-time job. They reasoned that I’d have plenty of time to work after I graduated. “Besides,” said my dad, “You don’t need to work. You already have all the clothes and everything else you need.” My dad was not much of a consumer. “You should let someone else have that job who might need it more than you do,” he said.

Click here to read the rest of this article and find out what happened with my job offer and how this connects with the lectionary text.

You can also sign up for The Christian Century free weekly lectionary email or find out more about The Christian Century and subscribe.

Happy B.C. Day to all of my readers in British Columbia – I’ll be back with a full article next week!



Categories: Church and Ministry

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2 replies

  1. So what do I do at the other end of the age scale when I could draw my pension but am fit to work? Whatever it has to be done to the Lord.

    • Whether our work is paid or not, it can still be creative, purposeful, useful activity that serves God and others. A recently retired friend thinks of his retirement as re-tire-ment, that is, getting “new tires” for a new stage of life. He is still engaged in meaningful activity in his family, church, and community, but at a different pace now that he is not employed full-time. As you rightly point out, “whatever you do, you should do it all for God’s glory” (1Cor 10:31).