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A Groaning Glory

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation--but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God.-Romans 8:12-27 Read the whole chapter here.

At the end of that Scripture that Beth had read, we had two groans. One was a groan of creation. Another was our groans. It ends with the new NRSV switches from 'groan' to 'sighs'. The Greek word has groan but for some reason they went with sigh. Any of you that watch dramas on TV, who is the master sigh-er in a drama? Think a minute. He's on Friday nights. Marty and I got into it in the winter and watched all 11 seasons of the show. Hallmark did three shows of his called "Jesse Stone". It was three movies and I thought oh boy, I'm gonna record these because I like him. After 20 minutes of the first story, I couldn't watch anymore because he was a depressed retired detective. It was one sigh after another. He sits a desk in New York City, PP1 it's called. Tom Selleck.

Tom Selleck in Blue Bloods. If you ever watch one of his Blue Bloods show, count how many times that he sighs in one hour. Whenever he gets perplexed, or whenever they have a situation that they have to deal with, the first thing that he does is give a big deep sigh. That's what life, in essence, does to us, doesn't it? We get these perplexing realities of life. We face things that are overwhelming to us. It leads us to groaning. Groaning about it from mild groans to real deep groans.

When we moved here in 1992 and lived with Marty's folks for a year before we could buy a house, every time Marty's dad, who was retired then, every time he sat in a chair, he groaned. And he groaned when he got up from the chair. And I was going to myself, why groan? Well, it didn't take many years after that to understand why he groans getting in and out of a chair. This text for years and years and years I never understood. What Saint Paul meant by creation groans. He says creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of God who subjected it in hope that the creation will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation Paul says has been groaning in labor pains. Together all of creation grows awaiting for us who have the first fruits of the spirit, groaning inwardly for the redemption of our bodies.

Some years ago it finally dawned on me what Paul was talking about. Marty is a wonderful master flower gardener. Our yard has just tons of beautiful flowers. This year we planted something different. She planted hollyhocks on the side of our garage, various colors of them. These hollyhock bushes are huge. This morning, I pulled out one of Marty's flowers that is in full bloom. Now if full bloom, it's showing its glory. It's showing its greatness. But what's going to happen to this in a few days? It's going to start withering, isn't it? It's going to start discoloring, isn't it? It's going to start fading. And if that flower could talk, you know what it would say is no, no I don't want to lose my glory. I don't want to lose that beauty that I have. I don't want to fade away. You would want to keep the glory that it has until finally is shriveled and brown. It would go from beautiful to brown.

I think what Paul means by creation groaning, in other words, creation knows the greatness that it has. It knows the beauty that it has and things happen to that beauty that makes it fade away. It's an inward groaning. I don't want that to happen. You see i