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:
- 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)
- Sending food gifts to friends (mishloach manot)
- Giving charity to the poor (matanot la'evyonim)
- 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.