In the aftermath of the horrific massacre in Orlando, we struggle to respond. We pray, but we know that prayer is not enough. We know we must take action to stop all the violence. We may choose to urge lawmakers to legislate gun control, to advocate for justice for LGBTQ persons of all religions, to transform patriarchal culture that exalts hyper/toxic masculinity, to work for equality and justice for people of all genders and races, to change religious institutions so that all people are fully accepted and equally valued—to take all of these actions and more.
We may feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges and wonder if our labor for nonviolence and justice makes any difference. This hymn video comes to bring comfort and hope for our labor.
“God Like a Woman Long in Labor Cries” draws from the imagery in Isaiah 42. The prophet Isaiah pictures God crying out “like a woman in labor” over injustices: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant” (vs. 14). Whether or not we have experienced the labor of childbirth, we all labor and often suffer as we labor. Sometimes we suffer because our labor for justice and peace seems in vain. Sometimes our work is rejected, demeaned, trivialized, discounted, criticized. This picture of Deity as a woman suffering in Her labor can encourage and strengthen us with the assurance that our labor takes part in God’s labor, and Her labor takes part in ours.
Also, we can find hope as we join with Her in co-creating new life and beauty: “See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42:9).
This video comes with the prayer that it will bring strength as we labor for nonviolence, and that it will bring hope that we do not labor alone and that our labor is not in vain. God labors with us, and She will help bring new life from our labor for justice and peace.God like a woman long in labor cries, feeling the pain of all earth’s anguished sighs, longing to bring forth justice evermore, that joy and freedom ring on every shore. God calls us all to join Her labor long, feeling the pain of all who suffer wrong, struggling to end oppression and its woe, that like a river peace will freely flow. God brings the former things to pass from earth; joining with Her, new life we bring to birth. Now we can feel creation’s pure delight, and all the world shines forth in beauty bright.
Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006).
Recording © Jann Aldredge-Clanton & Larry E. Schultz, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians CD (Eakin Press, 2007). For permissions, contact: www.jannaldredgeclanton.com; for additional inclusive music for all ages, see: http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/music.php.
Performed by: Chancel Choir of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina (http://www.pullen.org/). Conductor: Rev. Larry E. Schultz
Sister Marie-Celeste Fadden: “God’s Womb Pain” © Carmel of Reno. Drawing (or sketch) by Marie-Celeste Fadden, O.C.D. Used with permission.
Alice Heimsoth: photo in sanctuary of Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, San Francisco (http://www.herchurch.org/) © Alice Heimsoth. Used with permission. http://www.aliceheimsoth.com/Other/herchurch-Easter-2012/22366832_Whhj3j#%21i=1792348850&k=DT4MQbt
Lucy A. Synk: “Ruach” painting © Lucy A. Synk. Used with permission. http://lucysynkfantasyart.com/print_gallery
Stacy Boorn: “Monterey in Pink” © Stacy Boorn. Used with permission. http://stacy.awegallery.com/; http://www.awegallery.com/index.php?page=artists&aid=1
Recorded by: Ward Productions, Pinehurst, North Carolina