Why Us?

Why Us?


Esther 4:14 (NRSV)

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.


Feeling secure in our own homes, we watched and felt scandalized by the many images of thousands of Syrian refugees. As we drank our coffee in our comfortable chairs, the images of dead children and toddlers washed ashore were more than most of us could take. We were moved, sadden, and conflicted. Then we turned off the television, paid our bills, balanced our checkbooks, and hugged our loved ones - we felt blessed. And slowly those images faded away.

Days later, we heard that America was asked to do more - we were not doing enough. Our comfort was threatened, and many responded, why us? Why do we have to do it?

In the book of Esther, we have a story of survival. The protagonist - a woman. At the center - a people's fear that they will not survive. This fear has been a recurrent condition among the Jewish people and many others around the world. Their survival depended on the actions of those who had the power to influence change. Esther had the privilege of having access to the King and enjoyed his favor. Mordecai reminded Esther of her position and her privilege. His words "perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time like this" alluded to a higher call, a vocation, a purpose. And, while the name of God is never mentioned in the book of Esther, God's grace is certainly overt.

Similarly to Esther's time, today we are faced with the realities of cultural groups facing death and genocide. Like Esther, today we have privilege and power not enjoyed by many in the world. The question is: are we willing to recognize that privilege? Are we willing to answer the cry of the suffering, the poor, to the least of these? Perhaps, instead of asking "why us?" we can begin by saying "here I am, send me."


God of love and mercy, God of the suffering and the comfortable, help us recognize that we are your eyes, ears, hands and feet in this world. Help us see you in the ones we call "the other" and when we hear their cry, lead us to acknowledge that for such times as these you have called us. Amen.

Damaris D. Whittaker

senior minister of First Church of Christ, UCC, in Hartford

September 16, 2015
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