The Labor Continues
by Rev. Ginna Bairby
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” –Romans 8:19
Rejoice, for the day is here! As one of my favorite hymns proclaims, “Love has come; a light in the darkness! Love shines forth in the Bethlehem skies!”* All of creation has been groaning in labor pains with Mary, and at last the Christ Child is born! The angels sing and the heavens rejoice and alongside the manger, “Sister Chicken” and “Brother Goat” cluck and bleat their own melodies of praise.
And yet. There’s always an “and yet,” isn’t there?
And yet here we are some 2000 years later, still waiting. Still witnesses to (and participants in) the suffering of creation. Still hearing the cries of God’s earth and God’s people.
When Paul writes that the whole creation “groan[s] in labor pains” and “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God,” he’s writing not only from the other side of the manger, but from the other side of the cross, even of the empty tomb. Christ’s redemptive action has taken place, and yet creation is still in bondage. “Joy to the world…let heaven and nature sing!” – and yet the creation still groans.
It’s intriguing to me that Paul writes in Romans 8 about the children of God rather than just the Christ child, God’s only Son. For Paul, Jesus is the beginning, the “first fruits.” The creation still waits, with eager longing, for the continued revelation of God’s children.
Will we who are baptized into God’s family answer the call?
*Hymn quote comes from Ken Bible, “Love Has Come,” 1996.
Prayer: God of all grace, thank you for coming to us this day to be a light in our darkness. God who is both Father and Mother, help us learn to live as your children. Amen.
Rev. Ginna Bairby is the Managing Editor of Unbound (www.justiceUNBOUND.org) and Associate for Young Adult Social Witness with the PC(USA)’s Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministries in Louisville, KY. She attended the College of William and Mary for her B.A., Union Presbyterian Seminary for her M.Div., and served as a Young Adult Volunteer in Lima, Peru.