Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Esther 4:4-17

4When Esther's maids and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed; she sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth; but he would not accept them. 5Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why. 6Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate, 7and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people.
9Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, 11"All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law - all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days." 12When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, 13Mordecai 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. 14For 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." 15Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16"Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish." 17Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
Just when it seemed 2020 couldn’t get any worse, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this week. Justice Ginsburg did so much to battle issues of gender inequality, and her death has given me pause to read and reflect on the cases she won. One of the things that I find so admirable about her is the way she carefully, and even empathetically, considered how her arguments would be heard by unsympathetic, male ears. She carefully chose her cases and framed her arguments in ways that would make it clear that equal rights for women would also benefit men. Her rhetorical strategy is not only cunning and persuasive but also highlights a truth of our human condition: none of us is truly free until all of us are free.

Reading about Justice Ginsburg’s accomplishments made me think of this section of Esther. Having been chosen by King Ahasuerus to replace Queen Vashti, Esther, a Jew, has risen to the highest place in the royal household. Her identity as a Jew is a secret known only by Moredcai, her uncle, who has learned of a secret plot to kill all the Jews. He calls on Esther to use her power, privilege, and proximity to the king to thwart this plot. He reminds her that not even she will be spared if such a horror should come to fruition, and perhaps it is for just a time as this that she is queen of Persia.

I thought of this when I read a quote from Ginsberg in an NPR interview. “I do think that I was born under a very bright star,” she said. “Because if you think about my life, I get out of law school. I have top grades. No law firm in the city of New York will hire me. I end up teaching; it gave me time to devote to the movement for evening out the rights of women and men.” Not even she would be spared from the pain of inequality, but perhaps she had arrived for just such a time as this.

Obituaries have a common thread where the deceased is memorialized for the work or the people they loved and are remembered for how their unique individuality made a mark on the world. I really enjoy obituaries for this reason, even though I know that people are more colorful than the rose shade they appear in an obituary. It is empowering to know that each of us has something that the world needs.

The loss of Justice Ginsburg is a difficult reality at such a time as this. I have dreaded the start of the week, weary of the bitterly entrenched political division that seems inevitably to come. I find these words from Justice Ginsburg in a 2015 MSNBC interview encouraging, “[I would like to be remembered as] someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability,” she said. “And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something, as my colleague David Souter would say, outside myself. ‘Cause I’ve gotten much more satisfaction for the things that I’ve done for which I was not paid.”

Whatever talent you have, use it to the best of your ability to repair the tears in your society. Who knows? Perhaps you have come for just such a time as this.
We are fragile vessels of light, broken open to the world. Give us courage to use whatever abilities we have to repair the breaches, adding light to light, and mending the frayed fabric of our world. Amen
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at:
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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