Maybe we have some Esther in us. When plots against the Jews were uncovered in the Persian capital, one of the king’s favorite wives, Esther, was well-placed to do something about it. But there were great risks to face! She was one of the Jews being slandered; she was just one of many wives; she was not sure whether she would not be killed if she appeared unbidden before the king. But her uncle laid out the situation to her again: Terrible things were about to happen and she was in danger, as well as her people. He said, “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” So she told everyone to fast and pray and said, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (see Esther 4).
Now we will need to “Go to the Trump.” Maybe that has always been inevitable. My twenties began with the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency and ended with the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s We sat on our porch and talked very seriously about how we needed to be ready for the police state to rule us. We told each other we needed to be an alternative community to sustain ourselves in the coming time of troubles, as well as to hold out the light of Christ. There was plenty of trouble, but not the collapse of civilization we expected. And ever since, I have witnessed inspired people fighting hard for the poor, for rights, and for goodness when the government was doing things wrong. There are still a lot of inspired people doing the same thing. But there is also the fruit of this stream of power-mad, self-interested, pure-capitalists that resulted in Donald Trump.
In a perverse way, the president-elect is very good for the radical Christian “business,” since he causes the right kind of disgust and desperation with the world. The Bible writers think those feelings of conviction and repentance should be normative for anyone who has met Jesus. But generally, they are not normative for Christians in the United States. Yet here we are. Just like Esther was dragged out of her perfumed harem and into the necessity of the looming disaster, so are we are dragged out of our denial, or stupor, or relative comfort, or wherever and into the necessity of facing a fearsome future. “Who knows but that God made Circle of Hope for such a time as this?”
If you look at the goals we set last June after a few months of good thinking, they seem rather prophetic to me. We must have been ready then for what is now.
We said “This year we we are going to”
Help thirsty people meet Jesus:
This is the big thing. When they finally admit the government is a big shoving match between the elites, when 25% of the eligible voters elect the president who did not even get the majority of the votes people deigned to cast (if they were not felons or suppressed) then maybe, just maybe, people will realize they need the Savior they have. Our alternativity is the living proof people need that there is another way.
Strengthen our mutuality:
We really do not know what will happen to every despised minority (like radical Christians, too!). What if we have a war, a police state, a financial meltdown, a climate meltdown? We need to take care of each other.
Create jobs and strengthen our finances:
This is also an ambitious response to needing to take care of ourselves when the societal climate won’t. I am not expecting the financial bonanza Trump promises to reach us, do you? We need to find our own way and not be so dependent on the unstable and immoral government.
Open our eyes to the power of technology:
Didn’t the manipulation of the media just result in a predatory slanderer being elected? Didn’t Hillary’s dependence on her data sink her? Didn’t we all buy in for two years? Isn’t the leader of the Breitbart slander machine head of the transition? We need to start thinking more clearly.
Long term, we said we needed to address four big problems that are looming, We don’t know what is going to happen in the world, of course, but we are also not without hope or wisdom.
The Northeast megalopolis is losing contact with Jesus
We are here for a time like this. We were purposefully planted in the middle of the megalopolis to be the light in the darkness.
The “one percent” is effectively enslaving many people
We are here for a time like this. We need a compassionate, creative response to capitalism, especially now, since a man who can sell an empty brand name is president. Our mutuality web is not just for us, it is also for the people who are going to fall off the edge of the disasters first: the undocumented, the gentrified poor, the mentally ill, the broken families, veterans, felons, and anyone who is not considered lawful and orderly.
Large forces are threatening our children
We are here for a time like this. The internet is full of psychological land mines. The schools are run for profit. The scourge of data and legalism is everywhere. We need village parenting more than ever.
Advances in technology are undermining incarnation and blurring the image of God
We are here for a time like this. It always seems like an abstract thing to point out; we are having a hard time getting our minds around it — but we must not underestimate what technology is doing. It is not only destroying the climate, it is undermining what it means to be human. It is creating a new humanity faster than we are helping Jesus to do. Yes, there are people who are fighting against every bad expression of our escalating powers, but each day increases the data cloud taking various shapes we have never encountered before. We need to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves, unleash our best prophets and stay deeply connected to our place, our community and our Lord.
“Who knows but that God made Circle of Hope for such a time as this?”
I am not even sure what time it is, yet. But we are certainly awakened to the horrible possibilities that have been simmering for decades. Our situation is not new to God’s people, perhaps it just seems new to us. But we have been preparing ourselves and being prepared for a long time to be our own faithful response to this very circumstance that seems so surprising and difficult. May we have Esther’s courage in the face of it.