Resist Evil, Injustice, and Oppression

“For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” – Esther 4:14

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING: Esther 1-3, Psalm 69

It must have been hard to be Esther. Her story is told in the book of Esther. She was a young Jewish woman in a land filled with people who hated Jews. She rose to be queen and found herself with influence and power. But great power also brings great responsibility.

For the last few weeks, I have been horrified to see two more killings of black men take place. Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd did not deserve to die. Their murders were the act of racism – both individual racism in the heart of their killers, and systemic racism at the heart of our country. These types of racism are examples of an inward sin that can lead to a horrible and disgusting outward sin. For too long, our country has been plagued by these inward and outward sins. For too long, people of color have suffered because of this sin. For too long, I have remained silent because I believed someone else would speak up. Friends, my silence has also been a sin.

Like Esther, we have a responsibility to speak up for those who experience injustice and oppression. If we listen to Jesus’ teachings (which I STRONGLY encourage all of us to do), we are supposed to “love your neighbor” (Matt 22:39) and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). Jesus tells us that we should “love one another as I have loved you,” (John 13:34). All of this is what we understand through our Wesleyan theology of being “perfected in love.”

The last several days have been troubling. Not just with what I’ve seen on TV, but by what God is revealing to me about myself. It’s time to speak up and not be silent. It’s time to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves,” (that’s our membership vows as a church). For, like Esther, maybe God has put us here “for such a time as this.”

This Sunday, I will be preaching on this passage of scripture and will have more to say about how we can be the church in times like now. Until then, I ask you to join me in praying for our community, praying for our country, and praying for all people who have felt the sting of evil, injustice, and oppression in our world. We can do better. We must do better. We will do better.

I will leave you with this Prayer for Justice found in the United Methodist Book of Worship (513):

Almighty God, you created us in your own image. Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil, and to make no peace with oppression. And, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice to the glory of your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

May God’s grace flow in abundance and may God’s kingdom reign on earth as it does in heaven. I look forward to being with you in worship on Sunday at 10:15 AM on YouTube.

Together,
Matt

P.S. At the end of our worship service this weekend, we will share in an Agape Meal. The Agape Meal, or Love Feast, is a Christian fellowship meal recalling the meals Jesus shared with disciples his ministry and expressing the koinonia (community, sharing, fellowship) enjoyed by the family of Christ. To prepare for the Agape Meal, I want to invite you to have some bread (ordinary bread, crackers, rolls, or a sweet bread baked for this meal) and a beverage (water, lemonade, tea, or coffee. With your family and those who are worshiping with you, you will celebrate this meal as we celebrate the unity and love of Christ’s fellowship with one another. This meal is different from Holy Communion. At theend of the service, I will provide instructions to lead us through the meal together. Blessings!