You all know that I’ve been thinking about Missouri and it’s encircling issues virtually non-stop the past couple weeks. Are you tired of my incessant writing about it? I’m weary with it today myself. I’m feeling weighted down and fatigued. There are so many narratives involved and so many voices to hear; so much history brought to bear and an overwhelming amount of anguish and grief. There’s one thread, in particular, though, that continues to press in on me this afternoon and I find that I must write still more.
I’ve been so proud of my local church family for talking about it and praying about it and challenging ourselves to step up and to speak out and to take risks. But I’m starting to feel like our church is in some sort of echo chamber of our own making. Where are the other voices? Where are the voices of the people of my past? My childhood friends? My college friends? I grew up in almost exclusively Christian circles and I attended a Christian college. Where is the voice of the collective church? How can we not speak out about the injustices we’re seeing in Missouri and throughout the US?
Do you remember the story of Esther in the Old Testament? It takes place in Persia in the fifth century. Esther becomes the Queen after catching the King’s eye. But not long after taking her seat on the throne, a genocide is planned. It is declared that on the 13th of the month anyone in the empire is free to massacre the Jews and take their property.
What the King does not know is that his Queen is also Jewish. Esther had kept it a secret. Sneaky gal.
When he heard the news, Ether’s uncle, Mordecai, begged her to intercede on behalf of her people. This is what he said:
If you keep quiet at a time like this,
deliverance and relief for the Jews
will arise from some other place,
but you and your relatives will die.
Who knows if perhaps you were made queen
for just such a time as this?”
Mordecai called her out. Esther was in a position of immense power and privilege as Queen and Mordecai challenged her. He challenged her to raise her voice on behalf of those whose voices weren’t being heard. She was probably tempted to say nothing so that she, too, would not be executed. Who wouldn’t be? She was probably afraid. Again, who wouldn’t be? But Mordecai called on his niece to be brave. He called on her to use her position and her power as Queen to agitate for justice and to cry out for mercy for the Jews.
We, too, have to answer the call of Mordecai. We, too, are in a position of power and boundless advantage as the dominant culture. And if you are like me, you are probably tempted to keep silent. To say nothing.
But Mordecai’s call is for us. If we keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the African American people of the United States will arise from some other place, but we will die in the process. Metaphorically or literally, I don’t know. Let’s be brave like Esther. Let’s be brave and raise our voices together. Perhaps we were put here, in this time and in this country, for just such a time as this.