For such a time as this...
“For such a time as this…”
2021 Stewardship Reflection
The Book of Esther tells one of the most remarkable stories in the Bible, a story of intrigue, subterfuge, and ultimately salvation.  Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of the least read stories in the Bible.  God is never mentioned, not once, even though traces of God’s grace can be found throughout the narrative.
The story takes place in Persia, after much of the Jewish people have returned from exile to Israel.  However, a cohort of Jews remain, accustomed to their life in the foreign land where King Ahasuerus rules.  After shunning his betrothed, Queen Vashti, King Ahasuerus becomes obsessed with a beautiful Jewish woman named Esther and brings her to court. The King  is advised by his cunning grand vizier, Haman, who secretly plots to massacre the Jewish population within their borders.  Working opposite Haman is a Jewish elder named Mordecai, who secretly advises Esther, helping her to use her plight and proximity to the king as leverage to prevent the destruction of her people and raise them to a better estate.
Near to the climax of the narrative, in a moment of doubt, Esther sends a message of despair to Mordecai, who reassures her, “Who knows whether for such a time as this you have attained royalty?”  Here Mordecai implies that perhaps, unbeknownst to Esther, God had some hand in affording her status and power so that she could leverage it for the salvation of her people.  With this in mind, might it also be that this same God, who calls us in Jesus Christ to follow him, has supplied us with all that we need to embody generosity as an act of love for such a time as the one in which we’re now living?
This moment in Scripture begs this question of us, living as we are in a season of pandemic, sharp political division, racial injustice, and uncertainty about the future of our community, our nation, and our world.  Friends, are we not still the Church of Jesus Christ?  Have we not been furnished with abundant life to be shared freely within and outside of the people Jesus has called together to be his body in the world?  As we launch our stewardship campaign this year, it’s critical to remember that stewardship implies caretaking, understanding that we have been entrusted with responsibilities greater than ourselves, obligations more important than any one person.
In the fourth century there lived a great theologian and bishop named Basil of Caesarea.  He preached extensively on generosity and care for the poor as integral to Christian discipleship. In one of his sermons he admonishes his fellow believers, “Consider yourself, who you are, what resources have been entrusted to you, from whom you received them, and why you received more than others. You have been made a minister of God's goodness, a steward of your fellow servants.  Do not suppose that all this was furnished for your own gullet! Resolve to treat the things in your possession as belonging to others.”  Stings a little, doesn’t it? I wonder what would change if we were to trust that God has indeed called us, in such a time as this, to embody generosity, and trust that God has given us all that we need to live faithfully —to give of ourselves for others — as the Body of Christ in Burlington, NC.
Whatever generosity looks like for you, be generous, for as Paul reminds the church community in ancient Corinth, “For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have,” (2 Corinthians 8:12). For such a time as this, let’s join in renewing our covenant to live faithfully as ministers of the church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
Pastor Patrick


Last Published: November 4, 2020 10:46 AM
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