Labor Day is a national tribute to the contributions American workers have made to the strength and well-being of our country. The origins of Labor Day can be traced back to a celebration first held in New York City in 1882. There is a bit of debate over who actually first proposed the Labor Day holiday; some records show that Patrick McGuire, a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was the first to suggest the holiday, while others believe it was Michael McGuire who proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
While the actual founder of the Labor Day holiday may be unclear, what is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a celebration and picnic in 1882. It was originally held on a Tuesday but, in 1884, the Central Labor Union proposed holding the holiday on a Monday and urged similar organizations in other cities to also celebrate. Over time more municipalities and states began to adopt the celebration but it wasn’t until June of 1894 that Congress finally made it a national holiday. It has been celebrated on the first Monday in September ever since.
In addition to being a recognition of the American worker, Labor Day is also the first obvious sign that fall is coming. Here in Minnesota, another sure sign of fall is the conclusion of the Minnesota State Fair, which also happens on the first Monday in September. The beginning of the NFL’s new season is another indicator that summer has passed and fall has come. Upon returning to work after the Labor Day holiday we are sure to hear water cooler discussions about NFL roster cuts, fantasy football drafts, and predictions of how our home team might do.
Another telltale signal of fall’s impending arrival is the gradual color change that is already beginning in some foliage. Just today, Donna and I walked through the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary (a gorgeous nature center in the heart of Minneapolis) and, despite the sweltering heat and stifling humidity that suggest otherwise, we found plenty of early fall color. All the pictures accompanying this post were taken on our walk today. It won’t be but a few weeks and the rakes and light jackets will be out in full force and fall activities such as pumpkin carving and fall color drives will be on our weekend agendas.
For me personally, September marks the anniversary of my conversion to Christianity twenty-two years ago. I had attended a men’s event at Evergreen Community Church where the pastors and speakers shared their conversion stories and it was there that I first realized that Christians weren’t perfect people; they were individuals just like me who had accumulated a lifetime of regrets and mistakes and were in desperate need of forgiveness. The only difference was that they had found that forgiveness and I had not. I cannot begin to explain the impact four hours of such testimony had on me.
With my head full and my heart twisted, I left that event not really knowing where I was going or why. Unsure of what to do or what to think, I just got in my car and started driving. Soon I found myself at a bookstore where I purchased a paperback Bible for $4.99 and the next thing I knew, I was sitting on a rock at Taylor’s Falls (another beautiful place in Minnesota) overlooking the river valley as I started reading God’s Word for the very first time. Freed from my misconceptions of what a Christian is, the words in my $4.99 Bible touched my heart in a new and meaningful way. Starting that day I read the Bible as much as I could.
Just a couple weeks later, in mid-September, I found myself alone in my apartment when the reality of my situation came over me. I was newly sober (just over two years at the time) and besides the elimination of drugs and alcohol from my life, not much else had changed. I was continuing to live a life I could not be proud of, and deep inside I was not a happy person. And through God’s Word I was learning that all throughout history, men just like me had found themselves in the very same place, in the very same dire need of forgiveness. Men like King David, who had committed adultery and covered it up by having a faithful soldier named Uriah killed.
And it was then and there that I fell to my knees and I prayed and released my guilt, remorse, and regret to the only One who has the true power to forgive, Jesus Christ. And in that very moment, twenty-two years ago, I became a Christian; a new creation. The old had gone and the new had come. I was reborn and had found true recovery at last. I was a Christian; a child of God. Life has been far from perfect in the intervening years, but the deep and ingrained joy of knowing Christ has guided me, informed me, and comforted me.
Are you feeling the need for forgiveness? Is this fall the time for you to experience the cleansing and healing that can only come from the One who died so that you might live? The Bible says in Romans 10: “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart. And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” (Romans 10:8-11, NLT).
And in Hebrews 4 it is written, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV). It’s often hard for us to imagine, but Jesus walked this planet just like we do now, and He experienced life as we know it. This is why He is so accessible to those who seek Him, so I pray you will let today be the day that you come to Jesus and find His forgiveness and perfect love.
If we can help answer any of your questions, please do not hesitate to write us at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com. And as we prepare for the changing of the seasons, may God bless you and keep you.