Esther 4: 14
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 fathers family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to loyal royal dignity for such a time as this.”
Beloved, summer is here, school is (finally!) out of session, and we have entered a new season of ministry in the village of Tabernacle Baptist Church. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first week with you as pastor-in-residence. I have certainly felt your love and I am excited about the opportunity to learn and grow with this congregation during the summer months. I believe that God will continue to walk with us as we do justice, share love, and live freely with the Divine.
As we assess the conditions of our local community, city, state, nation, and global community, we can certainly say that we are living in a peculiar moment in American history. It is, indeed, an agonizing moment in American history. This is a moment where we have seen the dangerous resurgence of racism, sexism, xenophobia, nationalism, white supremacy and bigotry in our schools, workspaces, public transportation, Capitol Hill, and the White House. It is a moment in history where we recall the prophetic words uttered 76 years ago by a former first lady – Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt – who said in no uncertain terms “This is no ordinary time.”
This is a moment marked with a number of challenges due to police misconduct, prison for profit, and what Michelle Alexander has called “The New Jim Crow.” It is a moment in which we see voter suppression spanning the length and breadth of this country due to an odious Supreme Court decision – Shelby v. Holder (2013) – that has all the moral credibility of Plessey v. Ferguson. We are at a point where irresponsibility, ignorance, authoritarianism, and racism threaten to overwhelm virtues of respect, wisdom, democracy, and diversity.
It is more important than ever that our faith community serves as a witness to the redeeming and restorative power of Christ in our world. The power of our presence in this community and world must outshine the presence of hatred and bigotry. I believe we have been brought together for such a time as this to speak forcefully and openly about the values and virtues that we hold dear, such as equality, radical hospitality, freedom, and the search for common ground. Just as Esther recognized her opportunity to be a radical witness for the freedom and liberation of her people, so must we. At such a time as this, we are called to be the light that dispels the darkness; only when its darkest can we see the stars.
Rabbi Hillel once stated, “The universe is equally balanced between good and evil and your next act will tip the scale.” I look forward to working with you as we “tip the scale” towards what is good, equal, and just for our community and world.
Ubuntu (I am because we are),
Pastor Devon Jerome Crawford