This hymn video draws from the image in Isaiah 42 of God like a woman crying out in labor and bringing new life to birth. This seems to me an especially apt metaphor during this time. God has been laboring for justice and equity for a long time through many people and many movements. We are now seeing some results of this labor and awakening to so much more work we have to do. And we know that this labor may be long and painful. Whether or not we have experienced the labor of childbirth, we all labor and often suffer as we labor. But we feel the reward of giving birth to new life.
Through the current movement for racial justice and equity we are seeing many signs of new life. Movements for gender justice and equity also continue to bring new life.
* One hundred largest U.S. public companies have committed $1.63 billion to organizations fighting racism and inequality. The response is a significant departure from years past, when many large companies preferred not to talk about police killings or racism in the U.S.
* In the wake of protests following the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, and many other cities are reforming police policies and redirecting funds from police budgets to community and social services. The Los Angeles mayor and other city officials plan to take $100 million- $150 million from the police department budget to reinvest this money into communities of color.
* Racial justice protests have led states and cities across the country to remove Confederate monuments that have supported systemic racism and caused so much pain.
* Companies and organizations in every sector of society are addressing racial inequities and exploring new policies for increasing diversity.
* Individuals, churches, and other groups are having conversations about specific ways they can dismantle white supremacy and racism and practice anti-racism.
*In a landmark case on June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ workers are protected from job discrimination. The court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate “because of sex,” covers sexual orientation discrimination and transgender discrimination.
* The “Me Too” movement continues to bring awareness of violence against women and justice for all survivors of sexual assault. On June 27, 2020, Springfield, Missouri, will have a socially distant motorcade to spread awareness of the need for justice for survivors.
* People have been speaking out about the omission of Black women’s names from lists of people murdered as a result of police brutality and about men who have tried to silence women’s voices in recent racial justice protests.
* More and more clergywomen of all races are calling out churches and clergy groups who exclude them and/or deny them equitable opportunities and salaries for their pastoral ministries.
We can celebrate the birth of new life from our long labor for racial and gender justice and equity. But we know that we still have much more work to do.
My hymn “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” (Isaiah 42:14) over injustices. This picture of God as a woman suffering in Her labor can encourage and strengthen us with the assurance that She labors with us to bring forth justice and equity. Joining with Her, we are bringing new life to birth. (Isaiah 42:9)