There are crucial moments when you need to make a decision, when your future or the future of something important to you stands in the balance. This was Esther’s situation. According to legend, she ascended to the throne of Persia, during the 5th century before Christ, the wife of King Xerxes I. Although she was Jewish, she kept it hidden, even after she discovered her people were at risk. Her mentor and relative Mordecai confronts her, and asserts that her ascent to the throne may be part of God’s providence, “perhaps you have become queen for just such a time as this.” Esther rises to the occasion, risks her own welfare and saves the Jewish people from possible genocide.
The tale of Esther is celebrated each year in the Jewish community at the feast of Purim. Each year at Purim, people share food, give generously to the poor, and give parties and often disguise themselves with masks as part of the celebration.
Mordecai’s counsel applies to us as well. We have come here – and are alive – for just such as time as this. This is our time, filled with possibility and struggle; it is the time to seize the day and faithfully respond to what is happening right in front of us.
I believe that moment by moment, life confronts us with decisions, and moment by moment God confronts us with choices that will shape who we are, influence those around us, and change the world around us. Each moment we choose for life or death, good or ill and become closer or further from God’s vision for our lives.
We have all had these moments – choosing your college, finding a life partner, taking your first job, leaving your marriage, loving again…perhaps, we have had to confront a bully or injustice in the work place and in the community. Such moments are not always easy, but we often feel that we are the right persons at the right time, for just such a time as this.
Persons are part of God’s providence and so are institutions. As a church we have challenging decisions that have determined our future and we will continue to face challenges, for a sign of vitality is our willingness to choose our futures rather than depend on circumstances to determine our fate. Each week, we are challenged to choose the future of this congregation. Over the past several weeks, we have heard testimonies about “what South Congregational Church means to me?” No doubt many of these testimonies have mirrored your own experiences and they serve to remind us that we have more choices to make if we are to be faithful to our mission right now.
I have heard and I believe that South Congregational Church is still called to be:
- A place of hospitality for all
- A place of support for persons in every season of life, esp. the most vulnerable – for our children, for persons dealing aging and illness, and struggling with personal identity
- A place that speaks for health and wholeness on the Cape and in the world
- A place where faith can be lively, questions welcome, where all are pilgrims, and none are strangers….
- A place where music, the arts, science, and creativity are celebrated
- A place that invites us to be God’s partners in bringing beauty and hope to our community – through hammers and nails, backpacks, casseroles, care for orphans, sandwiches and soup, twelve step groups, smiles at the Thrifty Niche…
- A place where each of us valued, and accepted, and invited to become more than we can imagine
Esther had choices to make and they were challenging. Jesus’ first followers struggled to be faithful in the context of persecution and uncertainty. They made the choice to be faithful, and that is our choice, too….to listen deeply for God’s call as individuals and a community and then move forward as God’s companions in this white steeple church on Cape Cod for just such a time as this.