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“…already busy at work in the bakeries”

The Fabric of this World: Inquiries into Calling, Career Choice, and the Design of Human Work by Lee Hardy (emphasis mine)

What God would have us do with our time and talents is discerned from the duties which pertain to our stations in life together with the concrete opportunities he has placed before us. But what do we accomplish when we discharge the duties of a station in life, when we heed the call of God to serve our neighbor in and through our daily tasks? [Martin] Luther’s answer to this question is as astounding as it is humbling: the order of stations in the earthly kingdom has been instituted by God himself as his way of seeing that the needs of humanity are met on a day-to-day basis. Through the human pursuit of vocations across an array of earthly stations the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the sick are healed, the ignorant are enlightened, and the weak are protected. That is, by working we actually participate in God’s ongoing providence for the human race.

According to Luther then, the religious significance of human work is first apprehended in the light of the doctrine of creation. Having fashioned a world filled with resources and potentials, God chose to continue his creative activity in this world through the work of human hands. In his commentary on Genesis, Luther claims that God even milks the cows through those called to that work. Through our work, humble though it may be, people are being brought under God’s providential care. For God established the various stations of earthly life as channels for his love and providence for the human race; when people respond to the duties of those stations in the activity of work, God is present as the one who provides us with all that we need. “With persons as his hands’ or coworkers’,” writes Gustaf Wingren in his study of Luther’s concept of vocation, “God gives his gifts through the earthly vocations, towards man’s life on earth (food through farmers, fishermen and hunters; external peace through princes, judges and orderly powers; knowledge and education through teachers and parents…).” As we pray each morning for our daily bread, people are already busy at work in the bakeries.

More on The Fabric of this World can be found here.

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