“Finish, then, Thy new creation!”
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor 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.” – Romans 8: 22-23
The Advent hope recognizes that there is something unfinished about God’s creation. In today’s passage Paul employs the metaphor of childbirth, the “whole creation groaning in labor pains,” to describe the ongoing process of creation.
The United Church of Christ Statement of Faith testifies to the two calls of God, the original creation (‘God calls the worlds into being”), and the new creation in Jesus Christ (“God calls us into the church”).
It is humbling to imagine that we have some part to play in the completion of God’s work, in our lives, in our communities, and on this earth we share with all God’s other creatures.
The Advent hope invites us to actively share in the reconciling, restoring, healing and saving activity of the living God. Such hope points to a promised future when the whole creation will finally be completed, a vision captured by the last verse of the great Charles Wesley hymn, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling:”
“Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in Heav’n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.”
O Creator God, let your work be our work, as we long for the promised day when you will bring it to completion, through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A writer and author, his most recent publications are Romans, Parts 1 and 2 (with Michael S. Bennett), new titles in the “Listen Up!” Bible Study Series. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.