Written by Steven Liechty
"I will cry out like a woman in labor." - Isaiah 42:14
Click here and take a gander at one of the oldest maps of the world, the famed "Ebstorf" map from the 13th century.
Go ahead, click. I'll wait for you.
Pretty cool, eh? The original map was 12'x12' and painted on 30 goatskins. It was found in a convent in northern Germany in 1843 and destroyed 100 years later during the bombing of Hanover. All that survives are a few photographs.
Like most medieval maps, Jerusalem is at the center. The most striking part is easily missed. At the top you'll find the head of Jesus. At East and West, are his hands, and at due South, his feet. Either he's got the whole world in his hands or… he's very pregnant.
I'm going with the latter. It's true I've never been pregnant, so forgive me for waxing romantic, but the image of Jesus gestating and birthing creation is just too darn beautiful to pass up.
I once heard Richard Rohr say the Incarnation did not happen in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. That's just when we took notice. The incarnation actually happened 14.5 billion years ago with a moment we call "The Big Bang." Maybe that's when God cried out in labor pains… and again with Mary, again on the cross and again with you (just to name a few) because birthing something new into the world requires a good amount of groaning.
If you are in Christ, you are a new creation, but it took some labor by Mother God to get you there.
Lord God, you servant Paul said, "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." It's a comfort to know you are groaning and laboring right along with us. AMEN.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.