Easter 4 Homily 2010


Rev. Mason T. Beecroft, 04/25/2010

Childbirth in our modern time is not quite what it used to be. Advances in medical technology have helped to alleviate pain and to reduce death rates for both mother and child. Yet modern anesthesia has only been used for the past 150 years. In Ancient Rome, women were given a drink made from powdered sow’s dung to relieve pain. In medieval Europe, women would be whipped to accelerate their labor. If the woman was affluent, then her servants would be whipped. In the 1800s, it is estimated that 40 percent of women in certain maternity institutions died in childbirth. Childbirth prior to our modern era was an encounter with death, filled with uncertainty. While childbirth still involves pain, difficulty, and danger, it is far safer now than for previous generations. Martin Luther, commenting on Jesus’ illustration in the Gospel, stated, “For her the hour of endurance is now at hand. No one can say whether she will recover or die. All is anguish and anxiety, with no foreseeable end. But everything is concentrated on the moment when the child is born into the world. In that moment the anguish is immediately forgotten because of the happy sight of the newborn child,” Luther continues, “A change like this is also experienced here in this Christian life. Sadness will not last forever; it will turn into joy. Otherwise our condition would be hopeless and helpless.” (LW 24:382)

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