April 30, 2019
Be Like Esther
April 30, 2019
May you be like Ruth and like Esther. / May you be deserving of praise.
Strengthen them, O Lord, / And keep them from the strangers’ ways.
Fiddler on the Roof, “Sabbath Prayers”
Ruth and Esther are Biblical women who were regarded as foreigners by those around them. They were smart and independent, and with God’s help, they used the limited paths available to them to turn things around and save God’s people from danger. In Jewish homes still today, their names are often invoked in Shabbat prayers as the family’s daughters are blessed before the meal. We can join in the prayer that daughters and granddaughters everywhere grow up strong and faithful like Ruth and Esther. Let us remember to pray for a whole generation of “mighty girls” all around the world.
Esther must have felt completely out of place in the court of the Persian king. The king’s name in the NRSV translation is the Hebrew name “Ahasuerus,” but the NIV uses the name “Xerxes,” a well-known historical king in this time period, who was said to be fond of feasting and drinking, and difficult to please. Esther had little choice but to join his harem, but she must have known the story of Vashti’s fate after she refused to come to dance and show off her beauty for the drunk king and his courtiers. It took great courage for Esther to come before the king and plead the cause of her people.
The Christians of Smyrna also felt out of sync with the culture around them, and John conveys to them the message from God not to be afraid but to endure whatever comes in the knowledge that if they are faithful, “even to the point of death,” they will be given the “victor’s crown” (Rev 2:8-11). Today, struggling to be faithful disciples when we feel surrounded by values and actions that are alien to our faith, it is good to remember God’s promises and the gospel admonition: “Do not be afraid.”
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- Mordecai’s persuasion of Esther to approach the king on behalf of her people is often quoted, “If you keep silence at such a time as this . . .” (Esther 4:14). In what times and situations are we expected to raise our voices?
- Threats and persecution are not always directed at individuals but sometimes at the gospel message itself. What current ideas and practices do you see as a threat to the spreading of the good news of God’s love for all
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- Find out more about Jewish Sabbath customs. What can we do on Friday or Saturday evening to prepare for our celebration of the Lord’s Day on Sunday?
Who were Ephraim and Menasheh? Why are sons urged to be like them?
May God make you like Ruth and Esther. May God make you like Ephraim and Menasheh. May God Bless you and keep you. May God’s light shine upon you, and may God be gracious to you. May you feel God’s Presence within you always, and may you find peace. Amen. (Sabbath Blessing of the Children)