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Mother Knows Best

December 22, 2018

 The mysterious blessing of motherhood was given it's fullness in Christ. The seed of the woman finally crushing the seed of the serpent. Now every pregnancy, every initiation into motherhood, is a memorial to the incarnation. This is not the only glory and blessing that child bearing brings. Paul writes that creation groans with the birth pangs of deliverance (Rom 8:22). This labor is micro-cosmically felt in every mother. She is also delivering a new creation. She is making something new in this world, something that has never been before. What depths are there in this tip of the hat from Paul?


Going back to Genesis, and the promise that the messiah will come from the "seed of the woman", gives an interesting detail to God's story telling. Describing a woman's contribution to reproduction as her "seed", seems to run counter to how the whole endeavor works. At the risk of being graphic, it is the man who provides the seed-like part of reproduction. Is this statement a silly ancient near eastern typo? Not likely, Bart Ehrman. The seed being of the woman provides us with agricultural imagery. Seeds are planted, for those who may not know, into the dirt and bring life. One of the implications of the seed being of the woman is that it is not of the man, it is a virgin conception. Issac, who was one of the first shadows of Christ, has this miracle slyly alluded to in his conception. "The Lord visited Sarah as he had  said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age..." (Gen 21:1,2). Issac's conception is not preceded with Abraham "knowing" his wife, as every other conception seems to be. The Lord's visitation to Sarah is also notable as it fore-echos Mary's immaculate conception. These conceptions bookend each other, Sarah is confounded by pregnancy because of her old age, her "death". Mary is impossibly pregnant because of her youth, her naivety, her virginity. Both are miracles on opposite ends of history, the first an ancient miracle, the latter a new and paradigm altering miracle. 


Coming back to the agricultural imagery, is the mystery of seed planting. Farmers can sow, water, and tend but it is only God that can bring anything dead (barren womb) to life (1 Cor 3:6). Just as the Heavenly Father uses earthly mothers to bear promised sons, so does the Father image this with the earth itself. Earth is a mother, Earth is a womb...Mother Earth (I'll see you at my heresy trial). Paul tells us just as much, "Creation groans with the birth pangs of the new creation". The world's suffering is tied to the suffering and pain of labor. Not only are they connected, but the suffering is what is necessary to kill the old creation and give birth to the new. Earth and women are bound in their bearing natures, man's good work bears fruit both on the earth and in their women. The toil of man's work and women's work bring order and life into being. A mother receives visceral wisdom from child bearing if she views it through "Christ" lenses. The Christian mother, when giving birth in light of God's revelation, is proclaiming the cosmic groaning that echos as New Jerusalem grows. 


Our Earth Mother Wives are showing us, in ever sanctifying marriages, shadows of the Great Romance, the Cosmic Marriage. In the Old Covenant, when God's people were but betrothed, they were in need of Priests and the grace of distance since they were not yet cleansed to bear God's presence. The layers of the Tabernacle displayed these spiritual and physical barriers between God and his people. Through exiles, trials, and wars a Bride was being prepared for the God Son. In the incarnation and ministry of Christ heaven and earth are wedded. Christ is the seed of the woman, and just as he was birthed from a human womb, he also descends into the womb of the Earth. From dust we are made, and thus his blood also cleanses the dust to glorify the material man. He is the first-fruits of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:23). The very body of Jesus is the genesis of resurrection. He prepares the Earth for the new humanity that will never die.


This new marriage bears children through water births. Just as the womb is a life giving lavar, so are the waters of baptism symbolizing the new birth given to believers. Water birth is also an anointing into the priesthood and royalty of the new world, the New Jerusalem. The maturing of this eternal body and bride is accomplished through suffering and trial. The death throws of sin lash out at the children of God. So just as the suffering and pain of labor bring a baby, new life, new creation, in the same way the birth pangs of creation deliver a new race that is bringing heaven to earth,  preparing a home for her Husband. The preparation is two fold, it is depth and breadth. Persecution not only deepens the maturity of the bride but it also multiplies the children born of this Great Romance. The richness of every child birth demonstrates the blessing of the Bride of Christ bringing another life into the eternal family. 




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