“Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 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 as time as this.” Esther 4:13-14
Esther was “called” to be where she was. In my sermon this morning, I said that she was supposed to “bloom where she was planted,” to borrow a familiar saying. I thought about my work as a pastor, and particularly as a United Methodist pastor. We are definitely called to “bloom where we are planted.” We like to believe that the Bishop and Cabinet place us in the places where God intends for us to be. Sometimes it simply doesn’t work out, but many times it is a good match, and we are placed where we are most needed in our ministry.
When I first moved to southern Maine, I wasn’t so sure this was where God really wanted me. What I didn’t expect was the hard adjustment I had in the move for either me or my husband. We lost our entire support system. Our friends and his family were all still back in the Bangor area, and we were two and a half hours away. In addition, we had financial challenges that we never expected, and we are still recovering from that. So “blooming where we were planted” (or maybe transplanted!) wasn’t even on our minds. We were grieving, struggling, and at times downright angry.
Once we got past that and started realizing that we had been called here for a reason, we were able to have more “forward” thinking and to see more clearly how to bloom. Whenever a plant is transferred, the roots have to struggle to find their new “home” and become strong again. Growth can then begin again, and the blooms will appear once more. There are still times of sadness at being farther away from friends and family, but life is much better, and we are starting to feel at home – stronger, happier, and more fruitful. We have learned something about the pain of moving, but also about the hopes and opportunities in being in a new location.
We also see the gifts of the two congregations I serve, and the people are so precious to us. It was an adjustment for them, too. Sometimes the changes that come with a new pastor can be stressful and worrisome, but they have persevered with us, and we are seeing growth in the congregation, as well as having a good time together. God has blessed us as we continue to “bloom where we are planted.” Thanks be to God!