Skip to main content

esther 9

oh boy.  we've reached chapter 9, and in what should have been a chapter of happy endings and celebrations of peace and restoration, we instead find a brutal bloody story of violence and revenge.  having received mercy, the jews in this story fail to see the benefit in extending it, and instead resort to violence, killing "seventy five thousand."  scholars who have argued for a less literal interpretation of the story of esther argue that this mass killing is not found in the recorded history of these times and places.  but regardless of whether it is 'true' or not, it raises a poignant question for us about what we do with mercy when its been given to us: hoard it?  or share it?  the chapter ends with a detailed prescription for celebrating purim, a holy day still celebrated by jews who remember the story we've been recounting these last 9 days.  if you have the stomach for it, here's chapter 9. 
esther 9
paper collage on vinyl lp; paper collage on album cover
gregory a. milinovich

esther (nine)
(what kind of story is this?)
death, death, death.
in this topsy turvy turn,
the murdered become murderers.
blood is all over the dust.
thick chunks of blood fill the world.
the blood of the jews, no!
the blood shed by the jews.
(WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS?)
when the tables are turned,
who are we?
when the masks come off,
do we start again?
do we just trade masks?
we will make a day to remember.
we will make a time to never forget.
we will celebrate our freedom,
but never mention the blood we shed.
when the world turns over,
who will we be?
the hangers or the hanged?
the high, high, high,
or the sigh, sigh, sigh?

Comments

Greg C. said…
This study just keeps getting better and better greg.
When it's all said and done, you should think about packaging it (other than the way it is now, of course).
Thanks again for embarking on this journey through Esther. I'm learning a lot. I've reached the point where I can't wait for the next installment!

Popular posts from this blog

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

thankful right now

"if the only prayer you ever say in your life is 'thank you,' it will be enough." -Meister Eckhart

"thanksgiving is inseparable from prayer." -John Wesley

i've been thinking about gratitude quite a bit this week, and how to foster a thankful spirit in the midst of the barrage of bad news that for me is punctuated by yet another "breaking news" notification on my phone, interrupting the busyness of my day to rudely remind me that the world's brokenness knows nothing of limits or boundaries, not to mention my schedule or sanity.  still, the bad news keeps coming. 

i just scrolled through my most recent notifications just from the last few days and they contain phrases like "crimes against humanity," "57 million users hacked, but not reported," "alleged pattern of sexual abuse," and "extremely disturbing," just to name a few.  how am i supposed to be present at a staff meeting when my phone is buzzing …