Today’s author is Prince of Peace member and retired ELCA Pastor, Steve Sveom.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

This scripture reading sounds rather depressing. We hear of the destruction of human accomplishments; we hear of war; we hear of natural disasters; we hear of famines. But Jesus refers to these realities as birth-pangs. Jesus continues to speak of suffering; of darkening sun; of a passing heaven and earth. But he also indicates the coming of the Son of Man and the ongoing relevance of God’s word.

Women do not lightly endure the pain of childbirth but often choose to do it a second or third time because of the ultimate joy of welcoming a new child. I believe that Jesus faces the grim reality of suffering and death but with hope and confidence in the ultimate work of God among us.  Birth pains are real, but hope in God is the greater reality.

This is clear from the contrast between this passage and what preceded it – a widow gave two pennies that Jesus marvels at. “She out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” The reality of faith supersedes other major human accomplishments and it is there that we find hope and confidence. So, what does it mean for us.

Ferdinand Lamaze was known for his insights into childbirth. 1. Focus – using breathing techniques; 2. Be surrounded by positive encouragement; 3. Have support from a significant person. Maybe we can find insight in this process: 1. Focus on the simple rather than grand competing claims of “false” messiahs; 2. Encourage one another; 3. Find support in the presence of Christ and the community of faith. Perhaps we can see this message in Jesus’ words and find hope in a difficult world.

Prayer: Gracious God, we give thanks for the gifts of your word, the grace of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, the love of the faith community, and the power of faith. Amen.