Grace and peace over this Labor Day weekend. While many in our country celebrate the Labor Day weekend by traveling or simply enjoying the end of summer before church, school, and community activities begin in September, others are grieving or preparing to evacuate. 

Yesterday, seven people were killed and twenty-two people were injured in Odessa, Texas. When a man was pulled over by state troopers, he opened fire, hijacked a van, and kept shooting until he was eventually killed by police. Among the injured was a seventeen-month-old baby girl. I ask you to pray for God’s healing presence to be with the families of those who were killed or injured in this horrific crime. 

On the East Coast, we’ve been watching Hurricane Dorian, an extremely strong storm that is slowly starting to move up the East Coast. It poses a significant threat to millions of Americans, with coastal flooding and winds up to 185 miles an hour. Seven Florida counties have ordered mandatory evacuations to begin either Sunday or Monday. According to Governor Ron DeSantis, Dorian is one of the strongest storms to ever threaten Florida. 

On Labor Day, we remember and give thanks for all those who labor on our behalf. This year we are especially mindful of police, first responders, and rescue workers who have responded to the shootings in Texas and will be prepared to respond to Hurricane Dorian. 

It wasn’t until the late 1800s that labor unions became more vocal in the U.S. and advocated for better wages and employment conditions for workers. The first Labor Day parade was held on September 5, 1882, when 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march in New York City. Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday on June 28, 1894, when President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.

I invite you to pray this prayer with me.

Dear God, 

You have bound us together in this life. What one suffers, we all suffer. We pray for the families of all those who were killed in Texas, for those who were injured, and for all who have been traumatized by this unfathomable act of violence. We also pray for everyone who may be in harm’s way on the East Coast because of Hurricane Dorian. Protect them with your arms of grace. 

On this Labor Day weekend, give us the wisdom to understand how our lives depend on the courage, the industry, the honesty and the integrity of all who labor. May we be mindful of their needs, grateful for their faithfulness, and faithful in our responsibilities to them; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Office of the Bishop of The Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church