Lament and Hope: A Pan African Quad-Centennial Devotional Guide - Page 21

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
Weekly Scripture Lessons:
First Sunday: “Everyone Has a Right to Dignified Work” (Genesis 2:4-25)
Second Sunday: “Prosperity for All People” (Psalm 72)
Third Sunday: “Equitable Compensation Matters” (Matthew 20:1-16)
Fourth Sunday: “Inequitable Compensation Affects All of Us” (James 5:1-6)
Biblical Reflection:
When we read the biblical texts, we are often surprised by the number of references to justice for the poor and marginalized
that are center to our living of the faith. The scriptures demand we work to ensure people who experience poverty are not left
defenseless, and the oppressed are not left without an advocate. Jesus’ emphasis on worker justice and the poor is clearly stated
in the book of James. James, like Jesus, is concerned for the least, the last, and the left out—and calls for those who confess
Jesus as Lord to develop actionable concern for and with them.
James witnessed the wealthy refusing to extend wage justice to those who labored on their behalf. James tells us that the
laborers and harvesters were being cheated out of their due wage, and employers who are only concerned with their own
luxury and pleasure are guilty of wage injustice.
Today, the rightfully earned wages of the workers are being kept. People who have put in a fair, honest, and just day’s work are
being held back. People of African descent don’t have to look far back in history to know and recall the experiences of working
land that is not ours, and having our wages held back.
James reminds the faithful everywhere, as did Jesus, that there is vindication for the poor. There is hope for the oppressed.
There is victory for the marginalized—because God hears their cries. God hears those who experience wage theft; the moans of
the overworked; and the protests of the underpaid.
God of Love and Justice,
Because we know that you are faithful and just, we believe there is Good News for the poor and oppressed. Because we know
that you love and care about the condition of our lives, we believe there is Good News for the marginalized and left out.
Because we know that you have known and overcome suffering, We believe the Good News of hope and liberation in you. God
of Love and Justice, come quickly and secure our future.
Reflection Questions:
Week 1: How does the Biblical text invite believers to share a belief in the dignity of work, the right to a living wage, and the
right to a safe working environment?
Week 2: Does the Biblical text challenge believers to build a new socioeconomic system based on the idea of fairness?
Week 3: What kind of support can you offer to justice-oriented organizations and groups that work to improve the lives of
workers and laborers around the globe?
Week 4: Can you listen to the story of a marginalized worker, and in so doing, show genuine empathy and consider an
action-oriented compassionate response?
The Rev. Dr. J. Lee Hill, Jr. is the director of the Interfaith Justice Coalition at Alliance San Diego and pastor of Christian Fellowship
Congregational Church of San Diego (UCC) in California.
Bread for the World


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