As April closes and May begins, I’d be remiss if I didn’t pause for a moment to remember the victims and survivors of the Savar disaster in Dakar, Bangladesh. Just one year ago, over 1,100 people died and 2,500 were injured when a factory collapsed.
This disaster occurred to everyday folks just like you and me who work to make a living. The fact that it happened just a week before the celebration of International Workers Day on 1 May underscores the fact that in so many places around the globe there is no living wage and minimum protection for workers. People must be placed before profit.
The Israelites believed in a God who worked and who destined humanity for work. Human beings are the signet of God’s creation and are the prime subjects of work. Work should not dominate humanity; rather it should serve and protect the interest of human and non-human life. God never destined humans to be enslaved to work. This is made very clear through God’s liberating acts in the history of Israel when they were slaves in Egypt (Deut 5). It is in and through work that the human family should be cared for and the global environment protect.
In many countries, International Workers Day is a national holiday set aside to celebrate workers and their contribution to the world. We often see the CEO or the inventor championed, but not workers who each day toil in order to make these grand ideas and initiatives a reality. Now is a time to celebrate work as a gift from God and the dedication of workers throughout the world. (Col 3:23-24)
In America and other places throughout the globe I hear people talk about how there is no need for workers to organize anymore, that the problems of the workplace are relics of the past. To them I say that there is always a need to organize and to share our collective voice. It is in our Methodist heritage to speak truth to power, just as John Wesley did. He made the world his parish by taking the Good News into the factories, taverns and streets giving voice to many. He engaged the least, the last and the lost. Sharing with them a better way and of salvation through Christ. As contemporary heirs of John Wesley, it is incumbent on us to continue – to champion the basic dignity of people everywhere by offering them a better way through Christ.
As May begins I find myself donning a circuit rider-like hat visiting some of the smaller denominations within the World Methodist family to reconnect and the let them know that the Council is there for them. But as we reconnect I also ask them to have their eyes on the 2016 World Methodist Conference. It is my dream that during the Conference representatives from each of the 80 member churches will be there to share in warm Christian fellowship.
It is my fervent prayer that on the 24th of May 2014 the Pentecostal flame will be fanned into a runaway bush fire as we celebrate the anniversary of John Wesley’s heart-warming experience.
Grace and Peace