Romans 8: 22 – 25
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Having endured both childbirth and kidney stones, I am regularly asked which pain is worse. My typical response is that it is like comparing apples and oranges. But the main difference is that the pain of labour and delivery comes with the hope of it being more than worth it when you hold your newborn in your arms. A healthy baby brings joy like nothing else.
Paul’s illustration of creation groaning as in the pain of childbirth is both an affirmation of the pain and suffering that comes in the waiting and the promise of the newness that comes with the fullness of redemption.
God is making all things right. Of this we can be sure.
In the end there will be no injustice, no oppression, no exclusion….no stained glass ceilings and no second class citizens.
But now we groan.
Anyone who has given birth to a child knows that it is a mysterious combination of your body doing what needs to be done and a conscious, labored effort to bring forth new life. When I was in labour to give birth to my first child I began weeping uncontrollably – not because of the physical pain – but the awe of what God was doing through my body to bring my son into the world overwhelmed me. At the same time, I had to consciously bear down and push with all my might for his little body to come into the world.
As we reflect on the journey to embody and work towards LGBTQ+ justice in the church, let this both/and image equip us to discern how to live into, and participate in the realization of, the hope of what we do not yet have.
What practices enable you to continue to hope when weariness or discouragement tempt you to give up?
God of all seasons, God of both feasting and fasting, you guide us through the letting goes and the new beginnings of our lives. We confess to you our weakness in doing this fully, and we ask that we can let go of all impediments to our journey toward “life and life more abundantly” so that we can begin anew in grace. May we never lose hope in the eternal spring that you have promised to all of creation in a “new heaven and a new earth.” Amen. (Richard Rohr)