Are you interested in history? If you are, is your focus on your family's past or do you have a broader scope? Since we just celebrated Labor Day, have you considered why it was established?
If you’re curious, the Pullman Strike of 1894 is its source. At that time our country was in a depression similar to the 1929 crash. It was a trying time where labor unions arose as men clamored for higher wages and improved working conditions. So when wages plummeted and conditions didn’t improve, a strike arose between the railroad workers and the Pullman Company who built railroad cars.
This brought shipping to a halt, paralyzing the country and sending shock waves to our nation’s capital. President Grover Cleveland, attempting to deal with the strike, sent military personnel along with marshals to quell it. When they met, violence broke out. causing many rail workers to be killed. It was once again a time in our history where blood was shed.
So, six days later, Congress asked President Cleveland to designate Labor Day as a national holiday in an effort to make peace. The festivities planned for the holiday were parades and relaxing events for the workers, just as we celebrate today.
So there it is, why we celebrate Labor Day, even though who among us remembers the blood that was shed? And yet, we still celebrate, looking forward to this weekend first created to bring peace and brotherly love to our nation. So looking to history, sadly we learn this: Blood is often shed before we come to peace.
Thus, Labor Day was first established to heal the brokenness of a nation after blood was shed. It remains as an example of our human efforts to make peace, but also that our efforts never last. Nonetheless, this event is recorded in history so we can go back and touch base with its purpose in our lives. This is vital, for history teaches us humility in our thinking as the past has much to contribute to our future.
It’s not surprising then that St. Paul writes to Christians saying, “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb 13:1). The question is why live out "brotherly love," and the answer is because in another time someone shed their blood. Not rail workers in this case, but Jesus who died in perfect humility, shedding His blood on the Cross to offer all men forgiveness and make permanent peace with our heavenly Father above.
This is significant beyond all other events in history, for Jesus' life and death teach us how to live out "brotherly love" as He did. So how did Jesus live it? And the answer: He obediently kept our Father’s will. This means that to show "brotherly love" we must first responsibly uphold God's Word by keeping it intact and not changing it.
For this reason, St. Paul instructs Christians to live by God’s righteousness, showing hospitality and care for one another as well as keeping the institution of marriage undefiled. Free, as he says, from every form of sexual immorality since marriage is an example of our lives before Christ’s church. This means true "brotherly love" results from not coveting the things of our sinful flesh, but lives contented with what God has created for our good.
As Christians we can see these as solid foundations for our "brotherly love." They are examples that teach us that God’s righteous ways are to be the basis upon which we love one another. So be hospitable and caring, but also uphold God’s plan for marriage by rejecting the sexual immorality that is so wantonly supported today. Look, therefore, to God’s ways to find contentment in your life.
For, as history so wisely teaches, when we deny God’s righteousness and covet the things of this world, or create our own concepts of what "brotherly love" is, this becomes the reason why blood is shed, which brings "brotherly love" to an end. God’s blessings.