Ushering In God’s Justice Through Esther Moments
In late September, after yet another string of shootings of black men by police in the United States, our New Covenant Fellowship sister Gail was on her knees in desperate prayer. She was mourning the persistence of racial bias in America and fearing for the safety of Black people, including her husband (one of New Covenant’s Leadership Team members). And what would the future look like for her young son?
When her distress about the situation continued, Gail called on one of our co-pastors, Renée, who offered to come pray with her. And then, Gail says, God answered. He answered in a way that took her by surprise: through the story of Esther, who, as Mordecai says in the scriptures, perhaps became a queen “for just such a time as this”—a time when her people, Jewish and persecuted, needed deliverance. (Esther 4:13-14)
In an email, Gail shared how she interpreted God’s response to her prayers:
I believe the Holy Spirit showed me to pray for individuals in positions of influence and privilege who will be called to “Esther Moments” in order to bring real change in our racially biased institutions. I had a clear impression that it would take many people having many “Esther Moments” to turn the tide and bring in God’s justice.
When God spoke to me about Esther and gave me this idea, the part of my identity that was most engaged was my Christian identity, not my Black identity. Although my being Black led me to my knees that day about the plight of Black people in this country, including my own family, in that moment of prayer with Renée, I was overcome by how God’s justice can and should be ushered in by God’s people. Those who have power, privilege, and influence have a chance to use it for God’s justice today, right now. It was an urgent and forceful call to NCF and the larger church.
Two days after God delivered to Gail this call, another NCF sister, Patty, stood up to give the offering prayer and shared about the story of Esther as a call to action and justice. Mark, the NCF worship leader that morning and a school teacher by profession, also spontaneously encouraged the congregation members to speak up in these terrible times. Gail was amazed as this sister and brother affirmed what she had heard from God during prayer.
Today (Sunday, October 23, 2016), we are launching an initiative Gail felt led to call #EstherMoments. We see this as an actionable and intergenerational way for New Covenant Fellowship to lead faith communities in Champaign-Urbana (and beyond) forward in justice and advocacy for the Black community.
The idea is simple—speaking up for justice in big or small ways when we have opportunities provided by our privilege (White privilege, education, wealth, or a combination). But it requires those of us with privilege to be willing to be uncomfortable—to take bold action in our daily lives by engaging, listening, praying, teaching, and advocating in ways that allow God to work through us.
While the conversations, prayers, and actions we initiate are what matter most, we are also creating a social media component to share our Esther Moments with each other and to help spread this idea to other people of faith and privilege around our city, state, and country. By creating a hashtag to use on Facebook and Twitter, we are also establishing a way to collect #EstherMoments stories, inspiring us individually and collectively to keep working for God’s justice.
We invite you to look for opportunities in your own life to speak up, to pray for the many “Esther Moments” happening each day, and to share this idea with others who are looking for ways to advocate for the Black community.
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The above post is by Kristin T. Below is a graphic Gail created to help articulate and share the vision she was given for #EstherMoments.