With Whom Do You Cry?
This introduction preceded a dialogue sermon between Pastor Joanne Whitt and church member Peter Anderson. The dialogue sermon is available here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/admin/episodes/487710-with-whom-do-you-cry
Lesson: Esther 4:10-17
Like Esther, my friends, we are standing at a dangerous point in history, a confluence of issues that threaten our well-being and our freedom. As someone said this past week during my study leave retreat, “This is not a fire drill.”
So the question with which we are faced, as people of faith, is, “How do we seize the moment in a faithful way, in a creative way, in a courageous way?”
Our Scripture this morning is about one person’s faithful response to an urgent crisis. One person who recognized she was in a position to do something. The story begins when Esther, a Jewish woman of beauty and intelligence, is chosen by the King of Persia to be one of his wives – to be part of his harem. The king loves Esther, and eventually he makes her his queen. He either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that she is Jewish.
Haman, one of the king’s officials, is ruthless and power hungry. He orders all the people in the kingdom to bow to him. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, refuses on religious grounds. The people of God do not worship any human being. Infuriated, Haman plots to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom. Mordecai hears of the plot and asks Esther to act, to petition the king on behalf of her people. But here’s the problem: In order to do this, Esther will have to go to the king without being summoned. The the penalty for such presumption is death – unless the king decides he’ll hear you and extends his golden scepter. Mordecai presses Esther to take this risk, saying, “…who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Who knows whether you are here, at this place and this time, so that you can do this risky, courageous thing, and save your people?
The story has a happy ending. The king grants Esther’s request to be heard. Esther saves her people.
This morning Peter Anderson and I will talk about his response and the response of the Standing Rock Sioux to seizing a moment in a situation that in some ways is a microcosm of the convergence of the issues of our time. A people who have long been marginalized, even the object of genocide, seek to protect their water, their resources, and their culture from forces that are more interested in profits and power than people or a sustainable planet. I invite you to listen to Peter’s experiences with an open heart, and hold it in your hearts, prayerfully. When we hear stories about speaking truth to power and standing up to risks, it helps me to remember not only Esther but the Old Testament prophets like Amos and Isaiah, and John the Baptist from the New Testament, who invited the people to open their eyes to what was going on around them. And of course, Jesus, who said the truth would set us free.
We can’t listen to all of Peter’s wonderful stories here in worship. I will have to “call time” before we’ve heard enough. But you can hear and see more during the Sunday Seminar that follows coffee hour, at 11:30 in the Fireside Room.
The dialogue sermon is available here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/admin/episodes/487710-with-whom-do-you-cry