828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Christian Formation for Sunday, September 30 - Esther 7:1-10, 9:20-22; Haman, Mordecai, and Purim

Sundays 9:15 am to 10:15 am
September 30, 2012, 18 Pentecost
Esther 7:1-10; 9:20-22
Haman’s Downfall and Mordecai’s Advancement
The Feast of Purim Inaugurated
Background: The story of Esther is the story of one the greatest threat to the survival of the Jewish people. The book of Esther is less a historical narrative and more a commentary on the truth that God is intimately concerned with Israel’s survival. Additionally, and possibly more importantly, the book recounts the origin of the festival of Purim.
Theme: Before this passage Esther has become a wife of Xerxes (another name for the Persian king Ahasuerus) and later his queen. The people of Israel have been subjugated and their annihilation has been plotted by Haman, starting with Mordecai. It could be argued that Haman’s dislike of the Jews stems from his lack of self-respect and an inferiority complex.
Questions to Ponder
* Please read the entirety of Esther 7:1-10 and skim the portion of Esther from 7:11-9:19 for background and continuity.
* While this passage may not be a historical narrative, describe the setting of the book and passage; the social, political, and religious setting in Israel.
* What is ironic about the book of Esther from a social and religious standpoint? How does the presentation of the principle characters match with your understanding of Jewish society?
* Why might Esther ultimately accuse Haman of plotting to destroy all the Jews?
* Where else has the theme of making rash promises, “even to half of my kingdom” by people who are drunk on wine appeared in scripture? What might the significance be regarding this theme in the broader discussion of the survival of Judaism (and Christianity by extension)?
* Why might Esther accuse “someone” of selling “her people” to be “destroyed, killed, and annihilated”? Where might this accusation stem from? Who are the accused seller and buyer?
* What stands out about Esther’s accusation against Haman?
* Why do you think the king departed from the room in verse 7?
* Do you think Haman was assaulting Esther when Xerxes returned or do you think Xerxes was looking for an excuse to get rid of Haman?
* Why would Haman’s face be covered when he departs from the presence of Xerxes?
* Do you think it’s a coincidence that the King’s eunuch is there to point out the gallows that Haman had built to kill Mordecai? Why or why not?
* What do you find ironic about the use of Haman’s gallows for his own destruction?
* Why might there be a delay between the king’s new edict and the festival in Adar (about 9 months)?
* What is significant about the festival celebrated on Adar 14 and 15? What does the festival in honor of?
* How might this passage be a reflection of God’s love for humanity in the present day given the difference in circumstances?
* What applications can we draw from this passage?

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