“Orare est laborare, laborare est orare.” Or, to translate it from the Latin, “To pray is to work, to work is to pray.” It is a quote that has often been attributed to St. Benedict–although it appears that is an error. However, that quote (misquote?) points to the the notion of praying without ceasing and that by participating in creation, the making of things, (otherwise known as “work”) we can see ourselves as worshipping.
But, more challenging, perhaps, it trying to think of our work as mission.
Look at it this way. We often wall off our work life from our religious life. We may go to work on Monday morning or when the fish are running or when the tourists come RV-ing. And we may see our religious life as that which we do between the hours of 10 and 11 on Sunday morning or in the quiet time at home before the rest of the family gets up. And we may see missions as a trip we took in High School or the time we helped build a Habitat for Humanity home.
Yet we need to realize that God is revealed in all the many ways God’s people are involved in the world. And that includes our work. Each hour “on the clock” or “in the shop” or “at the desk” is an opportunity to be a witness to the world.
“Believers desperately need to grasp why and how mission is what they, the whole people of God, are engaged in already as they work. More specifically, they need to grasp why and how the work itself that we do is missionary activity rather than just an occasion for it…It is largely (though not exclusively) through our work that we reflect God’s image and co-operate with him in bringing people and the whole of creation to humanity’s and nature’s ultimate maturity and future.”
But, leading a congregation to see their work as a mission field is difficult. We’re so used to seeing mission as “church work” that it requires a shift in thinking and perception to realize that we’re engaged in mission when we work.