Esther and Mordecai
“Called to the Kingdom for a time such as this.”
One of the privileges of being at a Christian College is the opportunity to worship together at Chapel. Recently Professor Adams spoke in Chapel on the topic of “Stewardship of Technology and Natural Resources.” Maybe by reading this blog entry you can experience a brief moment of meditation and worship.
Call to Worship
Based on Psalm 8, we sang with organ accompaniment the hymn,
“Lord our Lord, Thy Glorious Name.”
Mordecai’s words to Esther were that she was, “called to the kingdom for a time such as this.” These words apply to all of us down through the ages. In our era when pollution and limited resources are becoming ever more difficult to manage it is fitting that we consider how Christians might respond. Let’s see if we can glean some insights from scripture.
The LORD exists forever; your word is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand today, for all things are your servants. –Psalm 119:89-91
Our first basic theme: All things and creatures exist to serve God. When we think about technology, we think of certain types of things people make, like bridges and computers. These things are to exist first of all to serve God. We need to exercise our stewardship responsibilities over these things first of all with respect to God. Where better to hear about our responsibilities with respect to technology than from the scriptures. Psalm 8, which we sang at the opening of this chapel says:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. –Psalm 8:3-8
Our second basic theme: We may be obedient or disobedient stewards, but we cannot avoid being stewards. And stewardship is more than being frugal. There are all kinds of aspects to stewardship, such as acting from an educated understanding of the creation, a sense of ethics, and recognizing historical perspective, and so forth. As “rulers” we should not interpret our stewardship as merely being frugal (as with money).
But we are up against a challenge. We have sinned.
Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying. –Hosea 4:1-3
Our third basic theme: The fall is radical. All things are corrupted by sin and the curse. But God is grieved by this. He loves us AND he loves his creation which we are to steward. Listen to the way God speaks to “the land” in Ezekiel:
â€¦prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I speak in my jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the nations. Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will also suffer scorn. â€œ â€˜But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of people and animals living on you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the LORD. I will cause people, my people Israel, to live on you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance;â€¦’ ” –Ezekiel 36:7-12
Fourth basic theme: Although the non-human creation suffers under the curse because of human sin, it is through its relationship with us, Godâ€™s image bearers, that the non-human creation will be healed and become fruitful in the way the Lord has planned. That relationship is bidirectional. We steward, and thereby shape the non-human creation. But the non-human creation, in turn, shapes us. In Ezekielâ€™s time, Godâ€™s people farmed the hills and built towns in the valleys. And those hills and valleys with their farms and towns sustained the people, but also shaped, and reinforced the shape that Israelâ€™s culture was taking.
Today, in the 21st century, we build cell-phones, high definition TVâ€™s, and jet airliners. But those cell-phones, high definition TVâ€™s and jet airliners, in turn, shape us according to the values that led us to build them in the first place. This bi-directional relationship between the human and non-human creationâ€”particularly technologyâ€”requires that our stewardship be a discerning stewardship. A stewardship that is prophetically critical of disobedience and a stewardship that points in the direction of obedient technology.
All the more reason why we need to know the ground of our stewardship activities, which is, of course, the redemption of the whole of creationâ€”human and non-humanâ€”that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ. Listen as Paul tells us about Christ and creation, where he says:
â€¦by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. –Colossians 1:16-20
What? â€œTo reconcile all things?â€ Yes, by his atoning death. â€œAll thingsâ€ includes humans, of course. It includes as well stars and galaxies, lions and dandelions, hills and valleys. But it also includes computers, telecommunication technology, medical technology, and transportation technology. And just in case you remain a wee bit skeptical about the significance of Easter for modern technology, I will close this chapel by reading to you from the prophet Isaiah. Would you believe it, in Isaiah 60, the Lord is speaking to a technological artifact? That technological artifact is the city of Jerusalem. And, of course, in this prophecy that great cityâ€”that which will become The New Jerusalem when Christ returnsâ€”represents Godâ€™s redeemed creation: his called out people as well as the healed and made-new non-human creation. Which means the prophet is speaking to you, to Dordt College, and to all that we are studying and working toward while we are here. Listen to what he says:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
â€œThen you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.
â€œWho are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests? Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your children from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.â€ –Isaiah 60:1-3, 5, 8-9.
Weâ€”if we are faithful in our stewardship taskâ€”we are those children coming from afar, with the good technological things of the twenty-first century. So letâ€™s accept our role as discerning stewards of the non-human creation and shape obediently that bit of history the Lord has called us to.
Our father in heaven when we consider the beauty of the mountains, and valleys, the quantity of the galaxies, the energy you have provided for us in fossil fuels, uranium, wind, waterfalls and sunshine, and when we think of living things, microscopic and macroscopic–all of what you have entrusted to our care–when we think of our responsibilities to care for these as your good servants, we are humbled. Send your Spirit that we may be discerning stewards, “for such a time as this.” Forgive us for our failures to understand what we should be doing. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Closing Hymn “Let All Creation Bless the Lord“
(Painting by Alrent de Gelder (1645-1727), “Esther and Mordechai Writing the First Purim Missive,” Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires.)