Common Ground Editorial: June 2021

What is good work, really? Is my 9-5 job of interest to God, or is it just a way to support mission and put something in the offering bag each Sunday? Maybe good work is a matter of being hard working, of not stealing office supplies, and, occasionally, of nailing a moment of evangelism at the water cooler. But surely there’s more to good work than this!

There is. In Common Ground this month, we complete our exploration of work with the question of work’s redemption: what makes our work good?

Two months ago, Andrew Shamy offered us a compelling vision of work, as found in Genesis 1:26. As men and women cultivate the earth, caring for every living creature and creating cities and homes, we are imaging our Creator. And yet, as Olivia Burne outlined last month, Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden devolved into the corrupted work showcased at Babel: work became entangled with making a name for ourselves, with idolatry, and with oppression and injustice. We were left asking, what—or who—can redeem our work?

In this month’s feature article, “Jesus and the Good of Work,” John Dennison shows how Christ’s own good work in submission to God the Father sets us free to do good work. This work flows from our identity as God’s children, is empowered by the Holy Spirit, and is offered back to God in thanksgiving and praise.

Where work is concerned, this is precisely what the Church’s liturgy points to. Priest and theologian Rev Peter Stuart explores how our work becomes worship, particularly as revealed in the sacrament of the Eucharist. In a related vein, Sam Bloore identifies the ways Jesus’s redemption affects our motivation, our conceptions, our ethics, and the ways we work. And Sarah Corban offers up a beautiful monthly practice to help us see the ways we may work in Jesus’s name.

Also in this edition, our photographer friend Stephanie Soh has captured some beautiful images of men and women working in their respective “offices” (spoiler alert: not many work in actual offices). Kareen Durbin, who creates our Common Ground moving banner images, reflects on her work with refugees and migrants through the social enterprise Companion. And Donald Goodhall has created a Spotify playlist inspired by some of our motivations for work (it’s also excellent listening for while you work).

This is a bumper edition ahead of Venn’s annual shutdown in July. Common Ground will be back in August. In the meantime, enjoy lingering with us in this month’s edition—and look out for the final podcast in our Good of Work series. May the Lord establish the work of your hands! Praise him!