Tuesday 3 November 2009

Patrick D. Miller on Esther

Patrick D. Miller, ‘For Such a Time as This’ (2006).

The Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary makes available online their Lectures on Youth, Church, and Culture.

The theme for 2006 was ‘For Such a Time as This’, taking its cue from Esther 4:14.

They write:

‘Esther’s is a story of tenacious courage, a willingness to follow God’s call, and a firm trust that the community of faith will survive by the grace of God. Her story provides a rich theme for the 2006 Princeton Lectures on Youth, Church, and Culture, for we live in a time when courage is often called for in ministry and when many challenges face the church and its young people. These lectures address a range of topics within this theme, including the future of the church, the nature of time, the practice of lament, and the call for youth to speak out.’

Interesting and useful though they may be, it’s not at all clear to me that the lectures engage terribly much with the book of Esther – with the exception of Patrick Miller’s piece.

His discussion takes in ‘time’, Esther, Mordecai, and God. About Esther he asks whether there are features of the story and her role that are paradigmatic and instructive for ‘such a time as this’, and suggests the following three:

1. ‘Such a time as this requires both realism and courage… [which] is evident all through the report of this young woman’s response to what happens. Heroism may finally characterize her act, but her perspective is quite realistic – about herself and her situation’ (65).

2. Such a time as this ‘suggests that what is needed is the joining of wisdom and faith, of sensible thinking with commitment to the faith and practices that have kept the community through thick and thin’ (66).

3. ‘In such a time as this, the young person of this story knows that in relation to her elders she is both bound and free – bound to listen and free to act’ (67).

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