Wednesday, November 20, 2002

The age of security. We feel it strongly this week in Prague, host city for the NATO SUMMIT 2002. It is as if the eyes of the whole world are on us. This week we are as newsworthy as we have been since the flood of August. This week, we have become a greater target for terrorism than perhaps we have ever been. 17% of Prague’s population have left the city, avoiding the publicity, the partial closure of the downtown city, and the possible risk of bombs.

NATO meets today in Prague. Dub’ya arrived this morning. 60 other Heads of State will be here for a few days of meetings. As well as 2000 delegates, 3000 journalists, and countless security teams and military personnel. One fighter jet will be fly over Prague every minute.

Around the world, people are talking about security and terrorism. In the last few days, three terrorists were arrested in London, one in Australia, and a man held hostage a schoolroom full of students in Spain.

We are living in a security age. Some say that the information economy gave way to the security economy, which might be one of the key industries driving the recovery. Churches are beginning to ask questions about security and their present structures.
The Indonesian churches, having experienced so much martyrdom and burning of churches, suspended public services during the year and moved to a house church structure. That does not mean they are immune from attacks, but it does mean they are not sitting ducks.

I feel we, as the church in the western world, are moving out of the place of assumed privilege to the corner of the room, or perhaps another room, a small room, where the other girls hang out. This is the place of Esther, the little orphan girl that joined the harem. The church no longer occupies the privileged place of Queen Vashti, who used her position to serve herself and not the people. We are moving from the Throne room to the Harem.

Look at difference.
Vashti was the only wife. Ester was one of the girls in the harem.
Vashti was the One. Esther was the postmodern Other
Vashti was a host. Esther was a guest.
Vashti enjoyed privacy. Esther was on show.
Vashti lived in safety. Esther lived in danger
Vashti had beauty. Esther had beauty and wise guidance from a mentor.
Vashti had luxury and ease. Esther fought for justice
Vashti gained privilege. Esther won favour.
Vashti thaw a private party for her selected friends. Esther threw a public celebration for her people.
Vashti could not enter the throne room without invitation. Esther entered boldly and was received.
Vashti lost her place. Esther saved her people
Vashti's parties never happened again. Esther’s party became a yearly festival.

Now is the time of Esther. The time to be beautiful. The time for the church to define itself not in terms of power and influence but of whether we are serving the poor and influencing the kings toward what is right.

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