We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
And this means that every week, as we turn the page to another book/chapter in the whole story, we do so (I hope) with a childlike curiosity, wondering, anticipating….How will this book (or ‘chapter’, if you will) contribute to the overall story? How will it move it along, explain it, and make sense of it?
And we know the story isn’t over—we look around us and see that history keeps marching on, the future out in front of us—God is still speaking, still storytelling. And just like the characters we read about in the story in the Bible, we know that we are characters in his continuing drama. Which means there is a connection between us and between them, no matter how long it has been since they were on this same earth that we inhabit. And that their stories must mean something for our story, and the ones who will come after us, for God is connecting it and weaving it all together.
And so this past week—on a Monday morning, if you were like me—we turned the page, from Ezra-Nehemiah, and at the top there in bold, large letters we saw a name…
Many of us are familiar enough with this story to at least wonder…how will a “chapter” in the Whole Story that doesn’t even mention or allude to the name of God possibly move God’s story forward? What will Esther’s story mean for our story? And above all, we need to ask, “How in the world will this lead us to Jesus!?”
Those are big questions, important questions. Frankly, it won’t be easy to jump into a story that is very tightly told and incredibly complex and answer those questions and apply it to our lives, all in about a 35 sermon. Which makes me realize how much I, as the preacher/storyteller, and you as the listener, need God’s help. So let’s ask him for it. Would you pray with me right now, wherever you are reading this?
We’ve arrived at a book that many of us are familiar with. We’ve heard this story before, in countless Sunday School lessons, and vacation bible schools, and we’ve even seen movies interpreting and depicting it. But I wonder if we’ve understood it rightly. Please give us eyes to see things here that maybe we haven’t seen before. Make us open to the possibility of that. Show us through this story the way of Jesus. Awaken us to our identity in him, so that we may know how you want us to live in a world and culture that seems to have gone mad.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
I invite you now to watch or listen to the sermon on Esther. And if you’d like to study the book further, I commend the Esther page over at the Bible Project. In addition, they have a great companion resource page on the Biblical theme of Exile—check it out as well.
Pastor Matthew will be preaching on the book of Mark this coming Sunday, January 20. Here are some tips for your Bible reading that you received in last week’s Weekly Bible Reading email.
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