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For Such A Time As This


You’ve heard that phrase before.  Right? For such a time as this? It comes from Esther 4:14.  Esther is a hard book, filled with a lot of violence and revenge that, correctly so, turns our stomachs and moral sensibilities. But couched within that narrative is this phrase in which we continue to find meaning. Mordecai tells his cousin Esther, the queen, in light of a crisis, “Perhaps you have come to this royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

It’s a phrase that has been, I think, rather correctly utilized, for the most part. It suggests that whoever we are, with whatever gifts and talents and power we have been given, that we most certainly have a responsibility to use those resources for good, in the whenever and wherever we find ourselves. It calls us, as most of scripture does, to focus on the moment. Scripture certainly values the past and tells us we must learn from it. It also calls us to realize that our actions have implications for the future. But more than anything, it calls us to focus on the moment at hand and not miss the opportunity that is in front of us now, to make a difference as we usher in the Kingdom of God today, to trust that we have been created, redeemed, sustained, gifted, and called…for such a time as this.   

So what does that mean for us today when, collectively, we find ourselves in a season of civil unrest centered, for the moment, around race. Indeed, the events in Charlottesville and elsewhere have called the question on our country, our state, our cities, and our churches, as to who are and where we stand, and with whom and for whom. I trust that on the larger questions of where we stand—justice vs. injustice, equality vs. inequality, love vs. hate—we know where we stand. We stand with the God of the prophets and with Jesus who always sides with the disenfranchised and for inclusion. But knowing that, and thinking that, is not enough. We have to utilize the talents, the gifts, the voice, the presence, the arms, the power, etc., that we have to help do sacred good and further the cause of justice and peace in…such a time as this.

What does that look like?  Again, much is relative. We all have different gifts, power, opportunities. We can speak up and let our voices be known. We can show up and let our presence say even more—at peaceful protests, at multi-racial events, etc. MLK50 is upon us and the opportunities will be numerous throughout our city. We can teach our children with our words and actions. This, among all else, is probably most important. But to get a bit specific, let me suggest engaging in three ongoing conversations.

First, have an honest conversation with yourself. Do a race audit. Look at your ideas and attitudes. Where did they come from? Look at your lifestyle. How integrated is your life, are your friendships? How could you improve that? Look at how your privilege has contributed to the problem. How can you address that and help change those dynamics? Second, engage in conversation with like-minded folk of goodwill of all races seeking to make a difference. These can be official groups. There are so many across our city. These can be Sunday School classes. These can be just a group of friends. But societal change requires movements, and movements require meetings and conversations that persevere. Last, and most importantly, engage in at least one conversation with a person of a different race. Ask them to share their experience, what they know and feel. And for the most part…just listen. Just listen and learn. I suggested earlier that we need to focus on the moment. And that is true. We can’t change the past, nor can we determine the future.  But…we certainly can affect the future, and, we do need to realize that in the future, history will look back on what we have said and what we have not said, what we have done and what we have not done, and it (our children and grandchildren, etc.) will judge us.  What will they write about us? As they consider these difficult days, will they find us at our best, or at our worst? May they write of us then, “Those were challenging days, but the folk of FBC rose to the challenge of being the people of God for the living of their day.  May we do likewise for such a time as this.”  

Grace, David  


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the September edition of Together.

Posted by Bridget Ellis at 9:00 AM
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