Today's Lectionary Text
Sing to the Lord a new song,
For a long time I have held my peace,
Listen, you that are deaf;
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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