We started a new sermon series working through the book of Esther this summer. I’ve never preached on Esther, and don’t think I’ve studied it very often or in depth. It’s perhaps a familiar story and worth a read (though the book is a little longer than you might remember) – God saves his people through the working of a young queen thrust into a situation she did not expect.
What has struck me is how unconnected, unconcerned, unfaithful and ungodly the “good people” in the story are. God isn’t mentioned in this book. There isn’t a single prayer. No visions. Nothing about the law or the temple or following the ways of God. Esther’s best result from this crazy queen pageant is to get married to a pagan king – which is in itself something strictly forbidden. Her uncle tells her to keep quiet about her lineage and faith.
Yesterday (Saturday June 14, 2014), I had an argument with my wife. We disagreed about my choices and schedule and were off the rest of the day. I went to a local CrossFit competition with my friend because I am trying to get him interested and involved in fitness so it will help his life. I wanted him to see that normal people competed and not everyone is a meathead. I worked on some things at the coffee shop. I trimmed trees with the help of my friend Garrick with equipment that actually worked this time. I showered, rested and then dressed for a wedding that I performed. I sat at the reception and mingled with people. I pet a Stingray and was glad when Sam and Noah were brave enough to touch one too. I dropped Julie off to get her car, came home, ate Ben and Jerry’s and watched the World Cup.
This is the life of a pastor, a minister of the gospel. One who wears the cloth. One who has been ordained and set apart for service for God’s people and the church.
It’s not very exciting or sexy really. It’s certainly not glamorous to be up there sweating underneath a robe or signing official documents required by the county to legalize a union. It feels pretty mundane. It feels like maybe life in Susa underneath the gaze of a worldly empire. My heart doesn’t feel thrilled or gripped or captured.
I’m thankful that we have Esther in our bibles. I love to read Exodus and Daniel, but I don’t often feel like I’m in that story. In fact I am! We’ve seen miracles here at City Pres! We’ve had so many monumental provisions and stories. But I still feel like Esther. I think I long too much for Genesis and creation and patriarchs and smoke pots and floods. When I see a day like Esther, I wonder if God’s work is over, if he’s passed by, if he cares.
So I’m preaching to myself through Esther. That God works in providence for his uncaring, unfaithful, unseeing people. That he offers grace even to me. Even to you.