Sharing Light, Sharing Faith in Divided Times: Exposition of This Year's Theme

Edwin Long, Queen Esther, oil on canvas, 1878, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.
Edwin Long, Queen Esther, oil on canvas, 1878, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

An exposition of our 2016 theme by Rev. Wayne MacPherson and Rev. Stu Smith

Our theme this year is inspired by Esther 4:14, where in response to the threatened persecution of the Jews, Esther's uncle, Mordecai, tells her, "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place, but you and your family will perish. And who knows that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"

"Such a time as this" brings a unique cluster of challenges and opportunities.

  • Entrenched racism,
  • Police corruption,
  • Extrajudicial executions of Black youths (for example Laquan McDonald),
  • Legislative threats to recent equality decisions,
  • "Religious liberty" laws,
  • Budget cuts to programs serving "the least of these,"
  • Increasing violence against transgender persons instigated by the rush to enact "bathroom" laws,
  • A presidential campaign that has exposed the racism and hatred of this nation's landscape as well as a pervasive un-Christian form of "Christianity,"
  • Growing hatred and hostility toward "the strangers among us" rather than exercising hospitality.

The Esther story, along with many other passages of Scripture, teaches the importance of speaking up for justice. It declares that all people of faith, in that case, even a young beauty queen, have a responsibility to speak out against evil, even when they themselves are not threatened.

Since the beautiful Queen Esther had never "come out" as Jewish, she probably had little to fear when her people were threatened with "ethnic cleansing." By leaving the security of her "closet," she risked her title, her luxurious living conditions, and even her life, but by speaking out, she delivered her people. Her courage is celebrated around the world every year at the feast of Purim.

We need to proclaim the good news, not with words alone, but by individual and collective actions that strengthen the weak, lift the fallen, invigorate the exhausted, and stand in solidarity with the oppressed.

With our 2016 theme, "Sharing Light, Sharing Faith in Divided Times," we hope to be like Esther. We intend to structure our pride month worship services, our celebrations, and our parade presence to speak out ourselves and proclaim the light and faith sorely needed in these divided times.