Faith in “Just Such a Time As This”

We were tough on media consumption 

Never thought about keeping from Bible

***

After deposing Vashti, Ahasuerus gets lonely.

  • contestants go thru a demeaning pageant—even by ancient standards
  • Mordecai
    • cousin who raised Esther
    • works in palace
    • sees that Esther she gets into contest
  • The Bachelor: Persia,
    • rated M for mature audiences
    • maybe X
  • This would not be media consumption I’d allow my grandkids

***

Throughout the process, Esther keeps faith & ethnicity from others

  • Mordecai told her not to tell
  • Probably for her safety
  • Likely for her overall well being
  • It enabled her to become queen

***

Next…

Mordecai discovers a plot against king

  • he encourages Esther to tell the king
  • she does so in his name

Guess what happens?

The plotters are brutally killed

  • more media I wouldn’t allow my kids

Mordecai gets

  • no promotion
  • no recognition

And Haman enters the story.

Haman is promoted

  • bad guy
  • during current day Purim services, traditional to make noise when name mentioned

Tradition says this is done so that his evil name is never heard again and because it is the Jews’ responsibility to “make noise,” to speak up when they see evil. (JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, ¶ 438)

King ordered all to bow down to Haman

  • Everyone but Mordecai obeyed
  • other servants pestered him
    • “because I’m a Jew”
    • Can bow only for God

Haman was ticked

  • So annoyed that punishing Mordecai was not enough
    • Haman plots to have the king order all Jews killed
  • like Vashti’s punishment not enough to punish her
    • all women ordered to obey
  • like blaming all Muslims for terrorism

[pause]

To summarize, Mordecai insists Esther not reveal her faith.

  • Mordecai reveals his faith
  • leads to death sentence for all Jews in empire
    • “Do as I say, not as I do!”

Mordecai didn’t know all Jews would be punished 

  • Still, risky to tell or he wouldn’t have stopped Esther

[pause]

Feels like in middle

  • just about right
  • Esther is a novella

If missed last week,

  • missed first couple episodes of 6
  • Just starting to get good
  • Not sure where it’s headed

***

But this is scripture.

  • novella is morality tale
  • sometimes facts stretched to make a point in literature
  • Bible no different

Berlin and Brettler suggest that “It stretches credibility to imagine that Esther could keep her ethnic identity a secret, but it is vital to the plot.”

***

So, what is the moral of this episode in our novella?

  • compare Mordecai & Esther with secrets
  • we can blend in with culture if we keep our faith secret
  • comes a point when we have to decide
  • Foreshadows

The time has not come for Esther to decide.

Mordecai had to decide in this chapter of our novella

  • forced by “just such a time as this” to claim his faith
    • or deny it
  • claim God
    • or deny God

Will it matter when the time comes for Esther?

  • don’t know
  • middle of story

***

What does this episode/chapter mean for us?

If we are faithful, we can’t hide it, not really

  • because markers of faith
    • not bowing for instance
    • or preventing a murder
    • the way we treat others
  • Too many practices of faith that differ from culture

We have markers to our faith, too

What are our markers?

  • As Christians?
  • As FCC Christians?

ELICIT RESPONSES

There are times when it’s appropriate to be silent.

  • personal safety
  • safety of others
  • when others are telling us their spiritual journeys
  • when our story would come off as judgmental
  • when it’s braggadocios

But like present day Jews, there comes a time to 

  • “make noise,” to speak up when they see evil. (JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, ¶ 438)

It can be hard to know when to speak out and when it’s not

  • (Mordecai today’s episode)
  • Pray
    • listen to the Holy Spirit
  • Read Bible
    • listen to the Holy Spirit
  • test with our kindred Christians
    • our own emotions can get us into trouble

Just as the time will come for Esther in our novella, it will comes for us

  • Just as it has in past
  • faithfulness ALWAYS takes risk

During Lenten season, listen.

What are we called to do in “just such a time as this”? Amen.

__

I delivered this sermon on March 12, 2017 at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Albany, Oregon.

 

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Tim strives to share God’s extravagant love for all–no matter what & without strings. Seeking to follow the lure of the Spirit, Tim writes about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in an era where Christianity has come to be associated with hatred and political wedge issues. “Heinous things have been said & done (& still are) in the name of the One who breathed in the Divine,” notes Tim, “but Jesus shows us that God loves extravagantly.” Following the teachings and life of Jesus is about inclusion not exclusion. It is about compassion, grace, and admitting no one has all the answers. It is about responding lovingly to the best of our human ability. It is about people not institutions. It is about social justice. It is about caring for creation. It is about being who we were each created to be. Tim is a former early childhood educator, a runner, a hiker, a devoted husband, father of two adult children and their spouses, and a grandfather of two perfect babies. The former pastor of the Condon United Church of Christ, Tim recently began serving the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Albany, Oregon. He writes from home, from the coffee shop, and wherever the trail leads him.

Posted in Esther, Esther 2, Esther 2:5, Esther 2:5, 7-10, 16-17, 20-23, Esther 3, Esther 3:1-6, Lent 2, Old Testament, Seasons of the Church, Sermon

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All materials by Tim Graves unless otherwise noted. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

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