Up the Workers!
Tuesday, 28th April: Workers Memorial Day
Thanks to a friend called Gwen, I now know that today is Workers Memorial Day. I have included a prayer from the email Gwen sent me from our mutual friends, Janet and Bob.
Today, there will be a minute's silence at 11.00am to remember key workers who have died as a result of Covid-19. A prayer for the moment is given below.
A young neighbour of ours, in her early twenties, works on the checkouts at a big supermarket in Sheffield. Suddenly she is on the frontline in more ways than one, exposed to many customers who may be carrying the dreaded virus.
And she is part of the huge group of people who are low paid and therefore undervalued – along with Care Home staff and many others whose worth is not reflected in their pay grades.
It has become painfully obvious that many of these workers are almost as much at risk health wise as those working in our hospitals. At least we are including them in our Thursday clapping sessions, but it remains to be seen whether we will demand a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work when we find a new normal.
Oscar Romero, who was Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador was assassinated while celebrating mass in a hospital chapel in 1980. He was outspoken in his championing of the fight to eradicate poverty and social deprivation and also raised the status of the ordinary worker in this radio broadcast:
'How beautiful will be the day
when all the baptised understand
that their work, their job,
is a priestly work,
that just as I celebrate Mass at the altar,
so each carpenter celebrates Mass at his workbench,
and each metal-worker,
each doctor with the scalpel,
the market woman at her stand,
are performing a priestly office!
How many cab drivers, I know, listen to this message
there in their cabs;
you are a priest at the wheel, my friend,
if you work with honesty,
consecrating that taxi of yours to God,
bearing a message of peace and love
to the passengers who ride in your cab.'
God of love, we remember today all those who have died in accidents at work, or because of diseases contracted at work. We remember particularly those who have died with COVID-19, medical workers, carers, bus drivers, shop workers and many many others; each one a son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother, grandparent.
In the silence, we remember them… …with thankful and grieving hearts, we remember them.
We pray about the future, and ask that everyone who sets off for work may come home again safe and healthy. Strengthen those who seek to make the work place a safe place. Give wisdom and a care for human life to all.
And in these days where it’s hard to know what to do for the best, and safety equipment is hard to come by, then God strengthen us all, and heal the rifts in our relating which are exposed in times of difficulty.
Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.
Janet Lees and Bob Warwicker