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From her column Around the Corner

around-the-corner-09-14-1With the celebration of Labor Day comes the traditional close of another summer. It’s the last day we can wear our white shoes without invoking a frown from Ms. Manners, and the day to send our summer clothes packing. More importantly, it is “Kickoff Time”—the beginning of the college football season. Life is good!

Admittedly, a day associated with “Labor” doesn’t sound very fun. Actually, it’s an oxymoron. When I was young (back in the Renaissance period), we didn’t have “oxy” morons—just plain ones; however, the advent of oxymorons has not improved our lives that much.

As the new school term begins, it would be a good time to take a vote on year-round school sessions. The concept likely would receive more than 80 percent support from everyone (except teachers, students, and other school personnel).

Now’s the time when leaves begin to fall from the trees. If you have them, it’s an occasion to either rake or pray for God to send gusty winds to blow them down the street. I prefer option two.

Do you know when, how, or why Labor Day began? Okay, time for a little history lesson. It started in 1892 and was made a federal holiday in 1894. Why? Because of a political deal (hmm… I’ve heard of those). It seems Grover Cleveland had annoyed the head of the AFL (American Federation of Labor) who was fighting with the head of the CLU (Central Labor Union). President Cleveland was trying to raise money for his reelection campaign and needed to cultivate the good graces of both union groups, so he declared a holiday “to honor the working man.” Thoughtful, huh? The act was rushed through Congress in six days—unbelievable!! In fact, it moved so fast, few understood just what the bill did.

Sadly (for the incumbent) the political maneuver didn’t help. Cleveland lost the nomination of his party to the Silver-Tongued Orator of the Platte, William Jennings Bryan, who subsequently was defeated by the Republican, William McKinley. Fortunately (for us), we were allowed to keep the holiday. What a deal! Guess the lawmakers liked it after they learned what was in it.

Actually, Labor Day wasn’t a new idea. God already had provided a better deal. Exodus 20:9, 10a describes it: “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shall not do any work.” We receive a rest from laboring every 7 days, and that is by Executive Order from the top guy in the big house—and He didn’t need any help from Congress. Then, Jesus expanded the concept with the offer for everyone to: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!”(Matt. 11:28). Now, that’s a real good deal!

This past summer my family celebrated with a reunion. We have been “reunion-ing” every other year, for 42 years. This time we gathered in Arkansas to celebrate. Although the original “gang of eight” is aging, and our number is smaller, we enjoy being together. One of the children scheduled and executed the plans for the assembly. She did a great job, and gave heed to our requests for no business sessions. Another one of the children gave a five-minute devotional about what “family” (specifically, ours) means. And, although the great-grandchildren are growing up, they still enjoyed climbing the rocks and playing together. It was painful as we remembered some of our fellowship who had gone on to heaven, yet we rejoiced in the memories of them and our previous reunions.

At the close, we voted to gather again in two years, and I hope all are still alive and able to come. Either way, I can take comfort in knowing that we will find rest from our labors—either in one another’s company or in the presence of Jesus.

I love resting. Invitation accepted!

Justine Knight was raised in a parsonage and married to a Nazarene minister for more than 50 years.

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