(Inspired by inaugural meeting of Pacific Mountain Regional Meeting 2019)
Esther 1 – 4
Queen Esther was challenged by Mordecai to do two things: to remember who she was, and to notice where she was! It was only then that she was properly able to fulfil her purpose! This is the question that Rev Michelle Slater challenged us with at our regional meeting two weeks ago: What if we have all landed just about exactly where we now are – in terms of all of our circumstances: age, health, geographic position, place in society, our spirituality – landed not just by some fluke but by Spirit? What if we are all “Here for just such a time as this”
‘The New Parish’ writers[i] urge us as the Church intentionally to be rooted in the context of our particular time & place! it’s for us actively to be listening & participating in what God has done and is doing and is still intending to be doing! The desire is to ‘be faithfully present the way that Christ was faithfully present: present to God, to others, to ourselves…’ It’s for us to discover what God is already doing in a specific place and how our joining in that is what it means for us to be living into God’s vision for that place. It’s all about our call and purpose – to be rooted exactly where we are, as opposed to living ‘above’ or ‘outside’ of where we are in favour of where we like to imagine/pretend we are, or where we seem to be!
Queen Esther lived in the King’s palace in Susa, the capital of Persia. But she lived in a bubble. It was all too easy for her to lose sight of what was actually most real in her life. Being surrounded by all that luxury and opulence allowed her to be hopelessly out of touch with the very real pain & danger faced by her much maligned countryman. That’s a terrible way to live – a false, and life-stealing way to live. Can you imagine living like that? As opposed to the community living that we were made for… Esther was genuinely gobsmack-shocked when she was made by her uncle Mordecai to realise what was actually going on ‘out there’.
A constantly bone-chilling reality for me is that that is just like us & just as how we tend to live so very much of the time! We all so easily allow ourselves to live most of our lives quite obliviously and hopelessly out of touch with what is most real!
How ‘in touch’ are we actually with what is actually going on in our worlds? Do we even know our neighbours’ names, never mind who they are or what they are wrestling with…? Or how about how we live: the gas in our motors cars – we don’t actually think about where it comes from – the carbon footprint we generate every time we start the engine.
I was recently introduced to the term ‘confirmation bias’ – describing how we so often build our own bubbles of reality and then only allow in only what we know or are most comfortable with, what we agree with, rejecting all other realities that may upset us. We ignore, or worse, we look right through whatever we don’t want to know or what would threaten our comfort zones as if they don’t exist – preferring to live in the vacuum-contexts of our own creation!
As my colleague Michelle Slater warned: ‘It’s far too easy, in our culture, to live above the place where we are.’
Well, Mordecai wouldn’t let Queen Esther do that!!! He shocked her with a very most real check on reality!
He challenged her to own how her living ‘above it all’ will ultimately not protect her! PERHAPS IT IS FOR JUST SUCH A TIME AS THIS THAT YOU EXIST! REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE! RECOGNISE WHERE YOU ARE! KNOW THE POINT OF YOUR EXISTENCE AND LIVE INTO IT!!!
We have to discover these things for ourselves – as individuals and as a faith community!
What are YOU doing / what are WE doing to ensure that we are staying in touch with where we have actually landed at this stage of our lives – because know this – this is EXACTLY where God would use us!
There has never been a time in history like right now! There has never been a time when people have been more desperate for meaning, for belonging, longing for significant, meaningful relationship! That’s what we are! On this Trinity Sunday, that’s what Our God reveals Godself as what God does best – pure relationship creating pure relationship – and as we are made in God’s image: ‘those who live in love live in God and God lives in them’ remember?
THIS IS OUR PRIMARY BUSINESS! To be owning that! To be living lives that demonstrate that! For us to be embracing an ever-enriched sense of that!
But we get our contexts so wrong! At times believing that everything we hold precious is under attack – believing that this is a time for maximum security! A time to be wary of everyone and everything, suspicious, on guard, self-protective. Other times believing that because everything is running out – this is a time of scarcity, a time to be grasping/ accumulating/ hoarding! A time for looking out for #1! What? Put myself at risk with the King Xerxes’ of the world who may hurt me for sticking my neck out – for standing up for wherever people are being threatened – isn’t that risky! It seems so much safer for me just to close my eyes – live above it all in my delusion bubble – pretend things are as I want them to be!!!
SO, JUST WHAT IS OUR CONTEXT – HERE IN 2019 – in Vernon? What circumstances are we allowing MOST to define us and our contexts? What circumstance are we doing our best to deny? The homelessness…? Our neighbours! …the courage of those living out their fluid sense sexual orientation/gender identity…? Our neighbours! …the reality of global climate change/ the fossil fuel crisis/ people terrified of job losses as the world begins to move away from those fossil fuels…? Our neighbours! Our context!
We celebrate and bless the Christ who we believe is come healing/ teaching/ releasing/ reconciling… WHY? WHAT WAS CHRIST’S POINT? Surely, it’s to equip us to stop being part of creation’s problem but part of God’s solution! What is being called out from us best to notice and then deal with each of these very real circumstances?
What are some of the greatest challenges facing us right here in our own backyard, and how have we been gifted to deal with all of these? HOW AND FOR WHAT HAVE WE BEEN PREPARED FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?
Rev. Robin Jacobson reserves all rights © 2019.
You are welcome to use, copy, edit or reproduce this sermon summary with copyright attached. Publication is prohibited.
[i] 2014 Tim Soerens, Paul Sparks and Dwight Friesen