Go Beyond with Boldness
An Online VBS Bible Study for youth and adults, part 3
Please read Esther 4-9
It is pretty obvious by the daily headlines and news stories that prejudice and hatred are still alive in our world. As we dig into the bible story where Queen Esther takes a stand, we can learn how boldly standing up for people can make a difference. Through our faith, we are called to use our positions, influence and resources to stand up for people especially those who have been marginalized.
Esther was a queen, but unlike Elizabeth I or Catherine the Great, Queen Esther held no power of her own, yet she still had a great impact on her people. Esther lived in Persia during the reign of Xerxes I. She was an orphan and had been raised by her cousin, a royal guard named Mordecai. Eight years after Esther’s rise to Queen, Xerxes appointed a man named Haman as his second-in-command. Haman had a hatred for Jews in general, and resentment against Mordecai in particular after he refused to bow down. Therefore, Haman persuaded the destruction of all Jews, disguising his intent by referring to them only as ‘a certain group of people’ who refused to obey the king’s laws. (Esther 3:8)
When Mordecai learned of this, he asked Queen Esther to appeal to the king as he believed she was the Jews’ only hope. Queen Esther resisted at first because the king could kill her for approaching him unsolicited like this. Mordecai responded, “If you don’t speak up at this very important time, relief and rescue will appear for the Jews from another place, but you and your family will die. But who knows? Maybe it was for a moment like this that you came to be part of the royal family? (4:14)
When her cousin first approached her, Queen Esther hesitated. Her vision of herself and her ability to help her people was limited by tradition and the rules of the land. Have you ever felt that you were unable to step up for some reason? What are the limitations placed on you either preceived or actual that keep you from acting boldly?
Queen Esther saw the wisdom in Mordecai’s words, and she would approach the king with boldness and accept the consequences Xerxes did not punish her, so Queen Esther requested the king’s and Haman’s presence at a feast she had prepared for them.
We don’t know why exactly, but once she had them at her feast, she did not reveal her concerns; she invited them to another banquet the following day. At that time, Queen Esther revealed Haman’s plot, which included killing Mordecai as well as herslef. Xerxes was upset that he let himself be persuaded into this but sense he could net reverse the decree, he decided to empower the Jews to fight back against any who would harm them and to have Haman executed. Mordecai and the Jews successfully defended themselves and their people lived in peace.
Have you ever stood up for someone in a tough situation or had someone stand up for you? How did that feel?
Aldersgate UMC recently voted to become a reconciling church after many months of educating, having conversations, listening and praying. I see this as one way we, as a church community, are acting boldly in faith. It might have been easier to simply believe the United Methodist motto of ‘Open Doors, Open Minds, Open Hearts’ was enough to state that we welcome everyone, but we did not. We boldly had the conversations, educated ourselves and each other and listened to how the United Methodist book of discipline had hurt people in the lgbtq+ population and responded. This was one huge step, but through God’s power working within us, we have to keep responding by proactively learning how we can do more and be better.
What other ways do you think our church does or should use our resources, influence and position to stand up for others who have less or none of these things?
Dear God, Thank you for the example of Queen Esther, who boldly used her resources to stand up for others despite great personal risk. Help us to identify the gifts and resources you’ve given us to do the same, trusting you always to be with us and to help us in amazing ways. Amen.