Although only 42:14 explicitly refers to birth, there is birth imagery throughout the text. God is the one who “created the heavens and stretched them out” (42:5), like a woman’s body stretches to make way for new life. God also “gives breath to the people” (42:5), which is reminiscent of the first breath a baby draws after birth. How does our understanding of the creation story change if we think of it as a woman giving birth? Rather than a tidy, step-by-step creation, birth is a messy and painful process. God chooses birth as the way for new life to come into the world.
Note: Add to Dec 26
As a text for preaching on Christmas, this passage provides a counterpoint to the lack of description of Mary giving birth and the idea that “all is calm” on the night of Jesus’ birth! Like God crying out in this text, Mary most likely cried out with birth pangs. For both God and Mary, the pain of birth opens up the possibility for something new: a new life, a new child, a new way of being in the world.
Note: Dec 26