May 1, 2019
Celebrating God’s Deliverance
May 1, 2019
As soon as their enemies were overcome, Mordecai sent out instructions to the Jews for a great celebration: two days of joyful giving and feasting—known as Purim—to be observed in perpetuity (celebrated in 2019 on March 21 and 22). Mordecai’s instructions are similar to our own traditions of celebrating God’s victories for life: The scripture is read (the Scroll of Esther for Purim); gifts are exchanged among friends; gifts are given to the poor; and, at a joyful feast, prayers related to the holy day are said.
Biblical celebrations of God’s great acts of deliverance help God’s people grow in understanding and continue in faithfulness. The observance conveys the meaning in ways that merely knowing about the event cannot, and therefore, celebrating is crucial for faithful practice. The liturgy of the Passover Seder is so important that God gave it to Moses even before the events of the Passover had happened (see Exodus 12:1-8). When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we participate in receiving Jesus’ self-giving love as well as remembering his death and resurrection, and we are sent to act on this love.
We have just observed the holiest time of the Christian calendar, and we make every effort to get it right. We hear the story again—the Passion narrative and the Easter Gospel—and we respond to the story with acts of praise; we have a grand Easter dinner; our children receive baskets of goodies; we extend the celebration with gifts to those in need. The tradition of Easter giving has endured for centuries. In feudal times, the lords of the manor were expected to furnish festive food for all the people on their land for the entire 50 Days of Easter.
The Book of Esther ends with many people coming to know God through the story of Esther and Mordecai. “For the Jews, it was a time of happiness and joy. . . with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews” (Esther 8:16-17). For us at Easter, we can let others know of our joy in God’s gift of new life and God’s great love for the world. Our giving in Jesus’ name, our Easter Alleluias, our open doors for all to come on Easter Sunday and beyond are part of our “public acknowledgment” of Jesus Christ our Lord (Luke 12:8). May our joy and happiness at Easter be a public witness to God’s saving love.
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- Easter season lasts 50 Days, including the day of Pentecost. We also remember every Sunday—the day of the week Jesus rose—as a “little Easter.” How are you still celebrating Easter?
- At BUMC we have honored the tradition of feeding hungry people in several ways, including filing Easter baskets for OFAM and packing boxes for Rise Against Hunger. How can we extend our efforts?
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- What do you remember about celebrating Easter? What is your favorite Easter tradition?
- How does the church observe the days before Easter, such as Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday?
God of life, you teach us to pray and sing praises to your name. We come with joy to celebrate your gift of the resurrection. May our Easter songs be heard, and our gifts of food be reminders of your abundant goodness. In thanksgiving and hope for the heavenly feast to come, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.