Mordecai wrote down everything that had happened. Then he sent letters to all the Jewish people in all the empire of King Xerxes, far and near. He told them to celebrate every year on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, because that was when the Jewish people got rid of their enemies. They were also to celebrate it as the month their sadness was turned to joy and their crying for the dead was turned into celebration. He told them to celebrate those days as days of joyful feasting and as a time for giving food to each other and presents to the poor. Â Â Â Â Â Esther 9:20-22 (NCV)
Lectionary texts: Esther 7:1-10, 9:20-22, Psalm 124, James 5:13-20, Mark 9:38-50
The holidays are coming. I saw on Facebook the other day that someone was going to put up their Christmas tree. In September! And I was thinking about holidays that celebrate as I was reading this week’s passage from Esther.
Esther was a Jewish girl who was taken from her home and brought to the court of King Xerxes. The former queen, Vashti, had been deposed and now the king would choose a new queen from all the virgins in his kingdom. Esther is made queen and is used by God to stop a conspiracy by one of the king’s nobles, Haman, to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom because Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, insulted him. Despite the very real threat of death, Esther reveals the conspiracy and that her own nationality. The king orders Haman’s death. I hope you will take time to read this short book in its entirety or, if reading isn’t your best mode of understanding, go to your local Red Box and get the movie, One Night With the King. It takes some â€œartistic licenseâ€ with the story but the main points are there and it is a beautiful movie.
In the next three months, I have three â€œholidaysâ€ to celebrate: my birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Will I look at these occasions and celebrate as Mordecai said?
Purpose of the celebration. I only had one birthday party with my friends and the cake and games. I was six-years-old. For many years, I have said that I would like a party with a crowd of friends. It has never happened. I wonder if that is because it has taken God this long to get through to me what the celebration on the day of my birth is really all about. It is a celebration of my life, the life He gave me. I am looking forward to my birthday this year. There are so many blessings for me to spend the day thanking my LORD for! And so as any holiday comes, it is a time to give thanks and worship my LORD who is very present, through celebrations and through trials.
Opportunities in the celebrate. Mordecai told the people to celebrate by â€“ filling their faces and buying presents for each other? No. He said to feast together and to give to the poor. Most of us know people who do not have family to celebrate holidays. Maybe they live in a facility or they do not have any family that live locally, including our service personnel. Maybe they are part of that group of thousands we call â€œhomelessâ€ and, if they are lucky, they will have a warm meal provided by a kind group. There are so many opportunities for each of us to give just a bit of our time or lay an extra place at our table or wrap a few extra presents for those who need, not want. Start today and ask God, â€œLORD, how can I be Your hands and feet through this holiday season so that someone may learn how much You love them and who You really are?â€ He will answer.
Mordecai told Esther to consider that she just may have been put in the position of queen â€œfor a time such as this.â€ God’s plan will happen. If He puts an opportunity in my path to be a part of His plan and I decide it’s too much trouble or â€œI just don’t want to!â€ â€“ God will give the opportunity to someone else. And I will miss the blessing. I want to celebrate opportunities answered!
Because of Who You Are written by Martha & Dan Munizzi, sung by Vicki Yohe