Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/21/2018

Today please be in prayer for

Sabetha: First UMC
Topeka District
Shawnee Heights UMC
Topeka District
Silver Lake UMC
Topeka District
Stull UMC
Topeka District

Today's Lectionary Text

Isaiah 42:10-18 

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise from the end of the earth!
Let the sea roar and all that fills it,
    the coastlands and their inhabitants.
Let the desert and its towns lift up their voice,
    the villages that Kedar inhabits;
let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy,
    let them shout from the tops of the mountains.
Let them give glory to the Lord,
    and declare his praise in the coastlands.
The Lord goes forth like a soldier,
    like a warrior he stirs up his fury;
he cries out, he shouts aloud,
    he shows himself mighty against his foes.

For a long time I have held my peace,
    I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor,
    I will gasp and pant.
I will lay waste mountains and hills,
    and dry up all their herbage;
I will turn the rivers into islands,
    and dry up the pools.
I will lead the blind
    by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known
    I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
    the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do,
    and I will not forsake them.
They shall be turned back and utterly put to shame—
    those who trust in carved images,
who say to cast images,
    “You are our gods.”

Listen, you that are deaf;
    and you that are blind, look up and see!

Today's Devotional

There are a number of instances in scripture where God is compared to a nursing mother or a woman in labor, and in the Book of Romans the Apostle Paul says that creation itself is suffering labor pangs in order to bring forth the Kingdom. These have always struck me as being particularly powerful images; ones which emphasize both God’s identity as a parent and the incredible effort that goes into the process of creation.

And now that I’ve twice experienced the pains of childbirth myself, I can feel the intensity of this metaphor on a truly visceral level. I can imagine God engaging in the messy, miraculous, exhausting and painful work of bringing new life into the world. I can imagine God groaning in agony, God sweating from exertion, God aching and contracting and pushing to bring the Kingdom into existence. Labor and delivery are hard, and they require a great deal of patience, endurance, and vulnerability. It’s awe-inspiring to think about God taking on the role of a mother and birthing the Kingdom of justice and peace into being.

One of my favorite hymns in our Worship and Song hymnal supplement is called “God of the Bible” (#3020). The third verse of this song declares that God has chosen us to be “midwives of justice, birthing new systems, lighting new lights.” What a fascinating metaphor! God is the laboring woman — the one whom Isaiah says is guiding us on unknown paths, bringing light into darkness, and turning rocky patches into smooth roads—and WE are the midwives who are called to facilitate that labor. We are the ones who have been given the privilege and responsibility of working alongside God during this long and challenging process of kingdom-birthing — and just like midwives, we wait with patience and faith, trusting that in time God will deliver what God has promised. 
-Rev. Emily Spearman Cannon
 Auburn (Nebraska) First UMC

Prayer for Reflection

Laboring God, when the pains of this world overwhelm us and exhaust us, remind us that you are groaning right alongside us. Empower us to be the midwives who help bring your Kingdom into this world. Amen.


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