November 01, 2021


 Devotion for the Week...

I find my devotions here are often triggered by my morning Bible reading, so you can almost trace my progress though the Old Testament by which book I'm sharing from on a Monday morning. This week I moved into the book of Esther and one particular moment stood out for me in light of current social justice conversations.

Some quick backstory from Esther chapters 1-3 - King Xerxes had a beautiful queen and in a drunken moment he commanded her to appear before his guests wearing her crown (I have heard that some scholars believe the command meant she should come wearing only the crown), and when she refused he deposed her as queen. Some time later he was lonely and decided to hold a beauty pageant of sorts to find a new queen. There's a whole issue there on the treatment of women, but that's not today's post. A young Jew named Esther was chosen as the new queen, though she kept her Jewish ancestry a secret. Then King Xerxes promoted a man named Haman to be the most powerful official in the kingdom and everyone bowed down to Haman. Everyone, that is, except Esther's uncle Mordecai. Haman flew into a rage over Mordecai's disrespect and he decided that punishing only Mordecai would not be enough. Instead, he convinced the king to issue a decree that on a specific day anyone at all could kill all of the Jews in the land with no repercussions at all.

"When Mordecai learned about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail. He went as far as the gate of the palace, for no one was allowed to enter the palace gate while wearing clothes of mourning. And as news of the king’s decree reached all the provinces, there was great mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and wailed, and many people lay in burlap and ashes" (Esther 4:1-3). The Jews everywhere were justifiably upset by the king's decree. Can you even imagine the talk and the panic that spread through the Jewish communities?

When Esther learned that Mordecai was dressed in mourning clothes and sitting at the palace gates, she sent one of her servants "to go to Mordecai and find out what was troubling him and why he was in mourning" (v. 5). And that was the moment that stopped me in my tracks. Esther, tucked away in the safety of the palace, was completely oblivious to what was going on in the rest of the kingdom. 

How often are we oblivious to the plight of others? We may not see the difficulties of the poor because we've never had to wonder where our next meal will come from. Or maybe we don't know the worries the homeless deal with because we've always had a safe place to live. Maybe we can't see the complexities that make it hard for a person to leave an abusive relationship because our relationships have always been healthy ones. Certainly those of us who are white do not understand the hardships faced by people of colour purely because of the colour of their skin.

Esther didn't know about the threat facing her people because she was separated from them, just as keeping ourselves apart from others prevents us from knowing what they face. Getting to know their situations is the first step in helping fix the problems. That has to be a conscious choice, though. 
Keeping ourselves apart from others prevents us from knowing what they face |
In the following chapters, Esther steps up and pleads her case to King Xerxes, thereby saving the Jews (that's the super simplified version). There are three factors to her being able to save them: first, she was aware of the problem; second, she had the position to be able to do something about it; third, she did what needed to be done.

How can we be like Esther? There's no shortage of problems to be fixed in our society. While not many of us hold political office or have the funds to make huge donations, there are ways to use the positions and influence we do have, however small we may think they are. So the question becomes, will we do what needs to be done?

1 comment:

  1. That's a really perfect topic for this time in our societies - add in a global pandemic and the mask/no mask - vaccine/no vaccine protests, and it becomes clearer that "not knowing" something isn't in anyone's favour. The drug and homeless situations even in our small town seem to have touched a LOT of people, and I hope that awareness is going to start opening eyes and ears to see that there's a HUGE need - one that we can all be involved in "fixing" - if we want to.


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