Thursday, March 8, 2012


Then [Queen] Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.” When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Esther 4:10-14
Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim. This is the celebration based on the book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible. The book of Esther tells the story of a young woman of Jewish birth who becomes the Queen. As queen, she employs wit, wisdom, and wiles to save her people from certain death at the hands of a cruel advisor to the king.
Each year during Purim four primary customs are observed. These customs are called mitzvot (which means ‘obligations’.) The four are:
  1. Listening to the public reading, usually in synagogue, of the Book of Esther in the evening and again on the following morning (k'riat megillah)
  2. Sending food gifts to friends (mishloach manot)
  3. Giving charity to the poor (matanot la'evyonim)
  4. Eating a festive meal (se`udah)

While Purim is not quite as simple as I’ve indicated here – you get the basic idea, I am sure… and while we are not obligated or commanded to celebrate Purim in the Christian church – each year at Purim I am reminded of two important things: first, it is never a bad idea to read sacred Scripture, give food to others, tangibly help the poor, and eat festively; and second, perhaps you and I are here in this place for just such a time as this.
God of all mystery and grace – Open my heart to hear your voice, open my life to share with friends and strangers alike, open my arms to embrace laughter, and open my eyes to see your plan… not just your plan for my eternity – but your plan for my today… your plan for my each and every moment of “now”. Amen.