Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 18

OT: Esther 1:1-3:15

Yay! We are in Esther! It is late, so I haven't looked Esther up, but I did complete Beth Moore's 9-week study on the book at the beginning of this year. From what I remember from Moore, the story of Esther takes place after Cyrus lets the exiles return. Thus, Mordecai and Esther are among the Jews who choose to stay in Medo-Persia.

It's weird, though. Because I have recently studied Esther so intensely, and b/c the story has long since been familiar, I find that I don't have a ton to write about it. In Moore's study, she focused on every verse individually and had all sorts of things to say about Xerxes, about the banquet, about Vashti, and about everyone's motivations. There was definitely a lot of psychoanalysis going on in that study. Yet, I don't really feel a need to recap it here, simply b/c there would just be so much to recap.

Instead, I just focused on the story today. More than usual, I found myself appalled at Xerxes' behavior, his reckless and easily manipulated way of doing business. And I was equally appalled by the idea of the "beauty pageant," in which the "lucky" ladies had no choice but to participate. In fact, most everything about the story made me glad that I live in a very different time.

I also found Mordecai to be more stubborn than usual today (even though I did love that he took Esther in as his own daughter). I guess my interpretation is based on Moore's claim that Mordecai's animosity to Haman was because he was an Agagite, and apparently, there is some bad blood b/t Jews and Agagites (I just looked up Agag on biblegateway, and all I got was that he was the king that they didn't kill when they were supposed to). Anyway, based on Moore's extensive explanation, it seems that Mordecai's intractability toward Haman stemmed more from a personal hatred than some principle against bowing to anyone but God (which is subconsciously how I've always read it). Regardless, Haman is a bad dude, even if Mordecai did slight him.

NT: 1 Cor. 11:17-34

Paul's writings today provide a unique window into the practice of the Lord's Supper. And when I look through that window, I don't see "our" Lord's Supper. I see something quite different. In Corinthians, the Lord's Supper was a meal that could both fill your stomach up with food and get you drunk (21). In contrast, no one is going to get filled up by the little wafer we eat every Sunday, and it categorically impossible to get drunk from a thimble-full of grape juice. And as a Christian in a church which seeks to replicate the New Testament practices as closely as possible, I'm a bit bothered by the discrepancy b/t Paul's words and our customs.

Even though we don't often quote verses 20-22 in our Lord's Supper talks, we do refer frequently to verses 23-29. They provide the standard explanation of the practice of observing the Lord's Supper, and they also give a stern warning about the state of the hearts of the participants. When we take the Lord's Supper, we must use that time to focus on Christ's death. Specifically, "anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself" (29). I have always interpreted this verse as talking about recognizing the symbolism of the bread and the wine, which represent Christ's body and blood. Thinking about the interpretation of my Catholic neighbors, though, makes me realize that they probably take the verse as saying, "If you don't recognize that the bread and wine are physically Christ's body, then you are drinking judgment on yourself." I can see why they would view Protestants, who don't believe in transubstantiation, as eating and drinking judgment on themselves, b/c, literally speaking, we do not recognize that as Christ's body.

That said, I stand by the symbolic interpretation of both the act and this verse.

Psalm 35: 17-28

David continues to ask God to save him from his enemies.

Proverbs 21:19-20

The first verse is about "quarrelsome and ill-tempered" wives, and the second maintains that the homes of the wise will have "stores of choice food and oil." As a wife who seeks to be peacemaking and even-tempered, and as a couponer who knows the value of a good stockpile, I see both of these verses as applying directly to me.


  1. Another reading for 1 Cor 11, which fits the context of some eating without waiting on others and some going hungry is that "recognizing the body" means the church as the body of Christ (which fits Pau's use of body language in chapter 12). That is, the socio-economic division in the church is a failure to recognize the body of Christ.

  2. I am pretty sure that the reason we assume Mordecai wouldn't bow to Haman was because he "only bows to my God and my king" is that's how Pa Grape puts it in the veggie tales version. :-)

    On the Lord's Supper, this is a pet peeve of mine with regard to our restoration heritage. Our entire thesis goes back to faithfully replicating what the early church did, especially as regards "acts of worship." We would never take the Lord's Supper on a Wednesday, or consider baptism by sprinkling or pouring, and of course there's the instrumental music deal. But we'll substitute grape juice for wine? Just watching the fellows who are charged with praying over the table fumble over the phrase "fruit of the vine" so that they can avoid saying either "wine" or "grape juice" spins my gears. Don't get me wrong--I don't really care that we don't use wine. I care that it's so intellectually inconsistent.

  3. Ha! I love that series! Amazingly, though, I have never seen the Esther one (my favorite is Rack, Shack, and Benny). Regardless, it's always good to know that my scriptural interpretations are on par with Veggie Tales (they totally threw slushies off the wall of Jericho, right?:)).

    I've thought a lot about what a "radical restoration" of the Lord's Supper would look like. It definitely seems like it would be a meal we ate together as a family. Part of that really appeals to me, b/c it seems that "recognizing" the body of Christ as the church would consist of more than sitting in total silence and avoiding eye contact with the guy passing you the plate. Plus, I really like food, and those tiny amounts aren't doing it for me! That said, we don't eat unleavened bread and drink wine as a meal. We just don't. Our culture is so different from that, to the point where it almost seems like we could not recapture the "meal" aspect of it, b/c we have redefined what a meal looks like. In that sense, I understand why we have dropped the cultural context and gone with straight symbolism (although, more accurately, we just inherited the practice from the Catholics). I just don't like that we've dropped a lot of the "community" part, too.