22“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves…” I suppose the significance of these words depends on whether we place the accent on the word ‘groaning’ or the word ‘labor pains’. That the world is groaning is not hard to see. What human greed and callousness does to the sea, the air, the soil and one another is deeply disturbing. When the honey bee population falls by half, when frogs are going extinct, when rhinos are slaughtered for their horns, when oil covers the shoreline, when groundwater is poisoned, when we are in the midst of the sixth great extinction event due to the human impact on the environment, its easy and proper to say that the creation groans. But Paul is talking about the groans of birth pangs, not the endless aches of an abused world. The creation is in labor. The contractions have begun. The New Creation is in the process of coming forth. The dry bones are being summoned together. The banquet table is being prepared. Water is turned to wine. Unclean spirits are being cast out. The Holy Spirit is loose in the world. The Holy Spirit is loose in us, crying out to God in inexpressible words for the healing of the world. I remember the long hours of the night in which my first daughter was born, the feeling that we were getting nowhere, the weariness. I wanted to sleep. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do. Deb wanted to go home. But new life was coming. We had no choice but to receive the life to come. And the only wise path was to work with rather than against the contractions. New life is coming. The grave is empty. The Spirit is poured out. The Spirit is interceding. All we can do is receive the life that is coming. And the only wise path is to work with rather than against the contractions.