This week we are brought in to the story of Queen Esther. We love to make faith about who is “in” and who is “out”. We love to believe that we know how God works, and that we can easily discern when something is “of God” or not. We like to feel that we are in God’s inner circle, and that we are beloved by God while others are not. We may say out loud that we know that God loves everyone, but in our hearts we easily start to feel like we, and those in our group, are God’s favourites.
But this week, the Lectionary challenges these exclusive views of God’s work. Just when it looks like we have God all worked out, God does something completely unexpected. If we don’t keep our hearts and minds open to this surprising work of God, we may just find ourselves missing out on what God is doing. In the Old Testament, the story of Esther reveals how God can use serendipitous events and unexpected people to save those who are being oppressed and persecuted. In the Gospels, the disciples tell Jesus that they found someone casting out demons in his name, and they told him to stop. But, Jesus tells them not to stop him because “anyone who is not against us is for us.” Certainly God seems to be less worried about credentials and the right connections than we are!
The book of Esther contains a story of royalty, intrigue, and danger. It reads much like a soap opera that reaches across the centuries. Yet, when we look deeper into the story of Esther, we see a people, a group that was threatened with genocide and women for whom speaking up could meant banishment or even death. We see a Jewish woman who finds herself the wife of a king who is allowing his officials to persecute Jews.
We see this woman, Esther, find courage, seeing her life unfolding for “such a time as this” and speaking up to her husband to save her people. When we look at this story, we can understand that there are times today when we might be in the right place at the right time, whether it be by chance or divine intervention, when we are given a chance to be courageous for God and for humanity, we can be like Esther – brave and bold – even when it means taking great risks.
Hear the complete story of Esther here
. Sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy. And here is an animated telling of the Jewish Festival of Purim: Animated Purim