Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19

OT: Esther 4:1-7:10

Whoa! We are just zipping through Esther! It's only our second day of reading, and we have already hanged Haman!

Part of me always wants Mordecai to be more stoic in the face of Haman's edict. I know, of course, that a calm reaction would be ridiculous. I mean, the man has just learned that his entire race is going to be annihilated. That's not the type of thing you take casually. I guess it's just that it is exactly the reaction Haman wanted, and I hate to think of Haman reveling in Mordecai's grief. What Mordecai's reaction does show is that he is certainly not too proud. He may not bow to Haman, but he will certainly bow (and weep and wail) before God.

Regardless, Mordecai has recovered his usual calm demeanor by 5:9. Perhaps he has gone back to ignoring Haman because he has a plan in the works.

My favorite part of the story, though, is not Mordecai's role, but Esther's. I love--love--her line, "And if I perish, I perish" (16). I was just thinking of that line a couple of weeks ago, and was trying to figure out where it was from. Was it a movie? A book I had read? I finally figured out that it was from Esther! I love that courage. And it's very in line with the courage of the NT Christians.

I also love Mordecai's question to her, the one that ultimately spurs her to action. After declaring his faith in God's deliverance, with or without Esther, he asks rhetorically, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" I think we all want to know why we are here. And even though the Bible gives us the general picture, we want to know why God specifically placed us in this particular life, this place, this time, this set of circumstances. Or maybe that's just me. The idea that there is an overarching reason for our specific lives, that we might indeed have a personal destiny, is very alluring to me. This is random, but I read an interview with some of the actors and creators of the show, LOST. The show was always shrouded in mystery, and one of the actors was relating their relief when they finally got a script telling them who they were ( meaning their character). That prompted one of the creators to say, "I'm still waiting for a script telling me who I am." By rhetorically framing his plea in terms of Esther's personal destiny, Mordecai was, in essence, handing her a script telling her who she was. He takes all the ambiguity out of it by insinuating that in this one specific act is her reason for living. In this one act is the answer to all of her "why's." Why was she an orphan? Why was she born into captivity? Why was she taken into the king's harem? And so on. And it seems like the possibility of finding a specific purpose and meaning is enough for her to risk her very existence.

Oh, and she'll get to save her people, too, so there's that...

NT: I Cor. 12:1-26

I love the metaphor of the church being the body of Christ. In some ways, it is even better than the family metaphor, though I love families, too. But a body, wow. That is some unity! And the comparison is so perfect when it comes to spiritual gifts, which is how Paul is currently applying it. People tend to look at their gifts, and then look at others' gifts, and make judgments. Often, wee either are not satisfied with the gifts we have and want someone else's, or we are too satisfied with the gifts we have, and think we are better than others. The body metaphor highlights the ridiculousness of these tendencies. Why would a foot want to be a hand? Or an ear want to be an eye? Each of the roles played by these body parts are indispensable. Why would one not be satisfied with an indispensable role? And like Paul says, even the parts that are less visible still have vital functions, I mean, especially when you consider the internal organs. (Except for the appendix. Poor appendix.) Anyway, the point is, I like this metaphor.

And I particularly like the last application: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (26). My preacher once demonstrated this point by talking about stubbing your little toe. Your little toe is quite small, physically speaking, and yet, its pain brings the whole body into commiseration with it. I thought that was a great example, and I always think of it when I read this verse.

Psalm 36:1-12

I found verse 2 to be a potent warning: "For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin." Yikes. Verses like these really make you want to do an honest self-evaluation!

Proverbs 21:21-22

I loved verse 21:

"He who pursues righteousness and love
finds life, prosperity and honor."

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