Sunday’s Sermon Today: It’s Your Time (Esther 4:1-16)

Do you recognize the moments when God is calling you, daring you, to step out of your comfort zone and do the impossible?

In the lead up to our Scripture today, we see the way that Esther’s life was all leading up to this point… that God was setting the stage to “show up and show off,” with Esther as the star.

King Xerxes, the powerful ruler of all of Persia, falls out of love, rather he becomes enraged by his queen, Vashti, and his nobles have a beauty pageant to find him a new wife. All of the young virgins across the country Xerxes ruled were paraded across the king’s vision, and he chose the young orphan Esther to be his new queen.

Esther had been raised by her older cousin Mordecai, raised with Jewish culture and faith. But Mordecai warned Esther to keep quiet about her origins, and so she entered into life in the king’s palace.

Soon after, Mordecai discovered an assassination plot against the king, and he warned Esther who warned the king. The king’s men put a stop to the plot and credited it to Mordecai. At the same time, a man named Haman also found favor with the king, but Mordecai and Haman were bitter enemies.

Haman’s intense hatred for Mordecai drove him to plot against Mordecai and all the Jews, and he convinced the king to issue a law that allowed everyone to kill Jews and take their possessions on the one day of the year, that is now known as Purim. It’s called Purim from the Hebrew word “pur,” or lot, because Haman had cast a lot, had made a move toward destroying the Jews… but we know that’s not how it played out.

Because Mordecai happened. And then Esther happened. Because two people recognized when it was their time.

When Mordecai heard the news, he mourned, tearing his clothes and putting on ashes, wailing as he went. Soon, word got to Esther that her cousin was having a breakdown in public! The queen sent clothes and word that he should stop making a scene, but Mordecai refused.

Esther sent her personal aide to Mordecai, and Mordecai explained everything that had happened. And Mordecai told Esther that she should go to the king and beg for mercy. But Esther knows how the palace works! She sends back word that she can’t go to the king, because if the king doesn’t summon her in and she goes anyway, she’ll be put to death.

And Mordecai reminds her that just because she’s in the palace doesn’t mean she’ll be protected from the edict. That if she won’t speak, that someone else will stand for those who can’t speak up, and that she won’t benefit from the deliverance.

Mordecai himself told Esther to keep silent– she was just taking his advice, his orders. She might in fact be safe from the edict because no one knows she’s Jewish! But he also implies that there’s a bigger picture here, that God will protect his people, and if Esther isn’t ready to be part of the big picture then God will try somebody else.

Think about the people who God used to change the world.

The founding fathers of the United States, in creating a nation where people could worship as they chose.

Mother Theresa, with untouchables in India.

The Apostle Paul, with bringing the word of God to the Gentiles.

The people of Washington Street UMC, who planted Blandford church in 1948.

Our parents, our grandparents, the people who shared their faith with us.

Without them, we’re not here now, physically or spiritually. At some point, they had to recognize that it was time to step out and move.

For Esther, the truth is that she might’ve been able to stay safe, and maybe she didn’t need to get involved because God would’ve used someone else. But it’s the next step, the next question that really sets the story in its place in history, that cements that people have been talking about Mordecai and Esther for generations:

What if you are here for such a time as this?”

We don’t know what Esther was thinking before Mordecai came to her, or if she’d even heard about the edict before he told her. We don’t know if she was practical, or cowardly, worried for herself or just trying to follow his orders. But we do know that this simple question set in motion a series of events which lead to the Israelites defending themselves and thwarting this mad plot to destroy them. We know that this question lead Esther to say that she would go to the king, whether it killed her or not.

One simple question, phrased in a way that shows up in every translation I looked at, from the NIV to the Message: “what if you were here for a time such as this?”

Wayne Watson wrote the song, “For Such A Time As This,” recognizing that it wasn’t just Esther who was faced with one of these moments, but all of us:

Now, all I have is now
To be faithful, to be holy and to shine
Lighting up the darkness
Right now, I really have no choice
But to voice the truth to the nations
A generation looking for God

Can’t change what’s happened till now
But we can change what will be
By living in holiness
That the world will see Jesus

For such a time as this
I was placed upon the earth
To hear the voice of God
And do His will, whatever it is

For such a time as this
For now and all the days He gives
I am here, I am here and I am His
For such a time as this.

Watson’s song quotes the Book of Esther, and it echoes the words of Joseph when he told his brothers that they sold him into slavery but that God had used it for good. It echoes the way that God used the death of his son on the cross to wreak love and forgiveness on an unsuspecting world. It echoes the way that God continues to call on his people again and again, “what if you are here for such a time as this?”

Let that rattle around in your heart for a minute.

“What if you are here for such a time as this?”

What situation exists that you are perfect for? What skills, experiences, and scars have you experienced that mean you are just right to…

-lead a small group?

-witness to a neighbor?

-begin a community-wide effort to end hunger, homelessness, poverty, loneliness, [fill in the blank]?

We shudder at the way that the world works, at the death, pain, financial struggles, political decisions, religious persecution, insider behavior, violence, and isolation that we see. In the way that the “next generation does things.”

But are we willing to do anything about it? Are we willing to fast, to pray, to enter the court when to do so is to receive a death sentence?

Or are we afraid to engage, to be bold, to recognize that God will use someone, and that it might as well be us?

That you are here, right now, for such a time as this.

What is a time that you know you were exactly where you were supposed to be? Leave a note in the space below. Thanks!

This sermon is for the 11 a.m. service at Blandford United Methodist Church on South Crater Road in Petersburg, Va. We’d be happy to have you join us!

Advertisements

About Jacob Sahms

I'm searching for hope in the midst of the storms, raising a family, pastoring a church, writing on faith and film, rooting for the Red Sox, and sleeping occasionally. Find me at ChristianCinema.com, Cinapse.co, and the brand new ScreenFish.net.
This entry was posted in Pop Culture, Sermons, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s