A Prayer for International Workers' Day

A Prayer of Protest
by Walter Brueggemann

 Source: Prensa Latina 

Source: Prensa Latina 

Since our mothers and fathers cried out,
since you heard their cries and noticed,
since we left he brick production of Egypt,
since you foiled the production schedules of Pharaoh,
     we have known your name,
     we have sensed your passion,
     we have treasured your vision of justice. 

And now we turn to you again,
     whose precious name we know. 
We turn to you because there are
     still impossible production schedules,
     still exploitative systems,
     still cries of pain at injustice,
     still cheap labor that yields misery. 

We turn to you in impatience and exasperation,
     wondering, "How long?" before you answer
          our pleading question,
     hear our petition,
          since you are not a labor boss and do not set wages. 

We bid you, stir up those who can change things
     do your stirring in the jaded halls of government;
     do your stirring in the cynical offices of the corporations;
     do your stirring amid the voting public too anxious to care;
     do your stirring in the church that thinks too much about
          purity and not enough about wages. 

Move, as you moved in ancient Egyptian days.
Move the waters and the flocks and the herds
     toward new statutes and regulations,
          new equity and good health care,
          new dignity that cannot be given on the cheap. 

We have known now long since,
     that you reject cheap grace;
even as we know that you reject cheap labor

You, God of justice and dignity and equity,
keep the promises you bodied in Jesus, 
     that the poor may be first-class members of society,
     that the needy may have good care and respect,
     that the poor earth may rejoice in well-being,
     that we may all come to Sabbath rest together, 
          the owner and the worker, 
          the leisure class and the labor class
     all at peace in dignity and justice, 
          not on the cheap, but good measure,
          pressed down,
          running over . . . forgiven. 

 

Walter Brueggemann. (2008). Prayers for a Privileged People. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 87-88.