Daily Devotion for Tuesday 30th April 2024

Tuesday 30th April 2024
 

Introduction

The global theme of the Season of Creation movement in 2024 is “To hope and act with Creation”, and the symbol is “The first fruits of hope”, inspired by Romans 8:19-25 .

Reading Romans 8: 19 – 25

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Reflection

Remembering the long hours I spent as a birth-partner to my late wife as my two children were born, the image of childbirth and the attendant groans are full of wild, powerful, and appropriate meaning.  Birth is a crisis. I’m drawn to see the place of humanity – and the Church – as midwife and birth-partner; part of the team led by God, striving towards Mother Earth’s healthy delivery.  Knowledge and technology have both helped and hindered the spiritual threshold of childbirth: anaesthesia blessedly takes the edge off the pain, but taken to an extreme can disable the mother’s interaction and ownership of a process which concerns her above all. This becomes birth by ‘stewardship’ because at every stage the wonder of birth is transformed into a costly ‘operation.’’

The best birth-partners, I would suggest, prioritise the encouragement and support of the Mother. They develop a relationship of trust before the ‘groans’ begin. (But at 1.5 degrees, it’s no longer quiet in the birth room.)

Humanity desperately needs to learn to value such a relationship with the Earth, not least as it’s our own birth, life, and death that are at stake. The Crises, though, inject a criminally disruptive element to the holy mystery of birth: the cultures of fossil fuels knowingly inflict injustice to climate and living populations.  They have sponsored a rowdy rampage through the birthing-room in which the mother is otherwise free to swear and groan according to her need.  They claim to offer prosperity – a pig-ignorant approach to the future of life on Earth. 

“Bondage/slavery to decay” suggests an abusive relationship risking that we confuse the beautiful process of the cycles of carbon, oxygen, water  [cf Isaiah 55] and nutrients with ‘corruption’.  The rising of bread for nourishment and the maturing of wine for gladness remind us that a fruitful relationship with death and decay is possible. Easter shows us that what has passed through death need not be abhorrent or unclean, and can be life-giving. 

Prayer

Sustaining God,
amidst the groans, demands 
and ‘language’ of Creation labouring for life
give us the freedom to claim,
with grace, patience,
courage, faith, and cheerfulness,
our place and purpose in the birthing space
serving for our good and your praise.
Strengthen us to assert a different way 
from Satan’s claims to prosperity and security 
to ‘win the world’ at cost of life.
Dear God, pull rank, with your love.  Amen.

 

 

 

Today’s writer

The Revd David Coleman is a URC minister and chaplain to EcoCongregation Scotland.

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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