Here are some previous thoughts on the subject of Work. When you have finished on this page, click Back to look at other topics.

Not long ago, Oprah Winfrey bought a worktable for $220,000. Such is the fashion for “Shaker style” furniture in US showbiz circles. The Shakers were an 18th century religious group and their furniture making exemplified the simplicity, functionality and high quality of workmanship associated with their Quaker origins. Above all, they believed their craftsmanship was guided by divine inspiration. As the Roman Catholic monk and spiritual writer, Thomas Merton, put it: “The peculiar grace of a Shaker chair is due to the maker’s belief that an angel might come and sit on it”.

Quaint though such a thought might seem, the image can be an inspiration. Whatever kind of workmanship we are engaged in today, the idea that an angel might be a recipient of it, could be an added incentive to give of our best.

Lego has been voted Britain's favourite toy in a poll limited to those over-25. The original hand-crafted wooden snap-together blocks have been replaced by plastic ones but the 70 year old idea of providing shapes to stimulate the imagination and encourage the creation of something unique has not lost its popularity.

Human beings generally enjoy being inventive. We use our imaginations in life at home and at work to make something new out of the materials we’ve been given. In cooking, home-making, managing people, developing a business, and in many other ways it is our creative skills that are being exercised.

God is the arch-creator. In one passage, the REB translation of the Bible describes the process of God creating the world as ‘playing’ (Proverbs 8.30-31). Often the demand for us to be creative in the different parts of our lives feels more like hard work. If we saw it as a type of play, challenging and inspiring our imaginative qualities, it might feel more like fun. The word Lego is made up from two Danish words which together mean ‘play well’. A good motto for today perhaps, even applied to what we normally see as work.

After “Calendar Girls”, it’s calendar accountants. A group of them in Louisiana, fed up with their grey image, have produced a calendar showing Brandy Ivy with her pet tarantula, Vance Bailes in his leathers atop his Harley-Davidson, and others who are flying experimental planes, pumping iron in the gym or hydroplaning.

People in certain jobs can easily be caricatured. We no doubt chose our career because it reflected something about the approach to life we already had. Our working lives, as they develop, help to make us who we are. So it is not unreasonable to caricature people in certain professions. A slightly unromantic side of the accountants emerges even from a calendar designed to prove the opposite. Helpful hints are written across certain special days including, on Valentine’s Day, that this might be the time to talk to your accountant about funding your future with your sweetheart!

Perhaps we might reflect today on how doing the work we do, whether paid or unpaid, is affecting our personalities and outlook. We might find its effect is not altogether welcome and want to find ways of redressing the balance. But we are just as likely to find that we can be rightly proud of being the kind of person our working life is helping us to become.

Claude Isakov worked among Palestinian women whose daily life is confined by curfew, military checkpoints and violence and where their traditional role does not involve work beyond the home. Increasingly they need to make money because their men are unable to work where they did in Israel, or are detained or dead. Together they started a juice project. This involved working out a good recipe, renting a suitable place to work, organising the equipment, packaging and labelling , purchasing the best fruit at the cheapest price, doing the book-keeping and marketing the product. For each of these skills Claude Isakov provided training but the hardest thing to develop was the women’s confidence. It was important to find which of these various skills each woman was best at so that she could really concentrate on that and yet feel part of the wider team. Their encouragement of each other and Claude’s exhortations eventually led to a successful and profitable business.

The Holy Spirit, whose coming Christians celebrated this weekend, turned the disparate disciples into a team. Men drawn from ordinary jobs became leaders of a world-wide movement. In the early church, each had their role, contributing to the whole community what they did best.

Let us celebrate today any teams that we are part of and take pride in the contribution we can make. Perhaps our encouragement of others in the team can boost their confidence and contribute to the satisfaction of working together towards a common goal.