Weekly Devotion & Prayer- October 25, 2021

A Reflection for October 25, 2021
Scott Carlson

Called for This Time

Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.  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 4:113-14)

If you are looking out at the world and wondering, “How much longer?” Or “When will this end?” Or “Who will come to help us?”  You are certainly not alone.  These have been challenging times, to say the least for the people of our churches, for our clergy, for church leadership, and for our world. 

As scary as it is to say this, I believe that you and I are a part of the answer.  We are the ones for whom we have been waiting.  In the midst of the challenges, God calls us to face this time and this age.  We are invited to face them (through our faith) with hope and with courage.  We are invited to lean on each other, to embrace the challenges, together, as people of God.  We are called to live out of our identity as followers of Jesus. We are the ones we have been waiting for. 

This was really brought home to me almost thirty years ago.  I was serving at Cargill United Methodist Church in Janesville, WI.  I had just been ordained an elder in the church.  The weekend after I was ordained, the church threw a big celebration for me.  It was great.
During my sermon, I was talking about the challenges of being in ministry today, in the world we live in.  I paused to talk about how I wish I had been able to serve and be in ministry during the time in which everything revolved around the church.  Back in the days when people were more supportive of the church.  In the days before scandals had ripped apart churches, in the days when people sought out the church more than happens now. 

Two days later, I received a card from a retired pastor, a wonderful man named Herb Ziebarth.  Herb’s card said, “Scott, congratulations on your Ordination.  What a wonderful time this is for you!  I was deeply touched by your sermon on Sunday.  Thank you for your words.  Meta and I served in the church you described.  It was a wonderful time when people and communities supported the church and the ministry of the church.  Your sermon has brought back so many memories of people and places and events and God doing wonderful things because of that support.  God called me to serve during that time.  It was terrific. 

But God has called you to serve in this time.  God has called you to serve in the challenges of these days.  I know you won’t find people, or communities, or even churches as receptive as I did.  But I know God has called you to serve.  Take the authority of that call and of the ministry of the church and serve well in these days.  May ministry be as joyful and fulfilling for you, as it was for me.”  Love Herb and Meta Ziebarth. 

Herb was reminding me, that God has called me and equipped me for ministry today.  I don’t always feel as equipped as I need to be, but then again, I don’t have to do ministry alone.  We do ministry with the help of God and with one another.  I want to remind you what Mordecai reminded Esther so long ago, that God has called you and equipped you for ministry today.  We are the ones we have been waiting for to make a difference in this world.  May God help us do so as people of courage, hope and love. 

Loving God, you have led us through a most complicated year and a half of Covid.  It has changed life and how we live.  We have endured isolation and challenges.  It is still in our midst, creating challenges.  Help us to look to you.  Help us to lean on you.  Help us to care for our brothers and sisters and do all we can to protect each other.  Help us to sing your song and allow your song to transform our lives. Help us, in your strength and power, to keep going. In the hope that Jesus offers us, Amen