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PURIM (POR-im) is only a minor holiday on the Jew-
impassioned plea on behalf of her people. It was then
ish calendar. Yet, it is the most joyous and fun-filled fes-
the king found out the people Haman planned to kill
tival of all. It has the merrymaking spirit of a Mardi Gras.
were Jews, and that Esther was one of them. The king
We dress up in costumes, put on plays, yell, stomp
ordered Haman hanged in Mordecai’s place.
our feet, twirl noisemakers, shake rattles, eat feasts with
It was not possible for the king to rescind his edict
family and friends, give gifts to loved ones and money to
that all Jews should be killed. However, he did grant
them the right to protect themselves on the day set for
The story begins with a drunk king in Persia, about
To commemorate the miraculous turn of events, Es-
ther and Mordecai inaugurated the festival of Purim, cel-
King Ahasuerus (uh-haz-yoo-EE-russ)* threw a sev-
ebrated each year on the 14th day of Adar.
en-day feast, and got drunk on the last day. That’s when
he commanded his queen, Vashti (VASH-tigh), to parade
The festival of Purim is celebrated in the spring, usu-
her beauty before the men. She was giving a banquet for
ally one month before Passover (or Easter, for Chris-
the women at the time, and she refused.
tians). It was March 14 this year, March 4, next.
The king became furious. He issued a nonreversible
It is a day of great rejoicing, gladness, and levity. The
decree that she could never again enter his presence.
celebrations begin the Sabbath before Purim, known as
Then he began looking for a new queen.
From among all the maidens in the land, he chose a
During part of this service the congregation reads
Jewish girl, Hadassah (huh-DASS-uh), known as Esther.
aloud Deuteronomy 25:17-19, which talks about blotting
She had been adopted and raised by her cousin,
out the memory of the Amalekites, who attacked the Is-
Mordecai (MORE-duh-kigh). This man quickly enraged
raelites from behind as they left Egypt.
the king’s prime minister, Haman (HAY-mun). Mordecai
We read this because Haman is described in the
Scroll of Esther as an Agagite, a descendant of King
Haman decided not only to kill Mordecai, but all the
Jewish people in the empire. The king agreed to Haman’s
Jews today see Amalek and Haman as examples of
plan, without even asking what group of people Haman
To set the day for the slaughter, the leaders cast lots,
On the day of Purim, we read the Scroll of Esther.
or purim. The lots fell on the 13th day of the Jewish
Whenever the name Haman is read, we stomp, jeer, and
turn the gregers
or noisemakers. This is to blot out the
When Mordecai learned of the coming disaster, he
went to Esther and urged her to intercede for her people.
The day before Purim is a day of fasting, to commem-
Esther agreed, and asked that all Jews in Persia observe
orate Esther’s decree that the Jews fast and repent be-
a three-day fast before she went to the king. Going to
fore she went to the king. But on Purim day, we eat a
the king was risky because she could be executed for ap-
festive meal and share our joy with one another.
proaching him on her own, without an invitation.
The king received Esther, who proceeded to invite
A Grim Reminder
him and Haman to banquets on two nights in a row.
The Purim holiday, while joyous and spirited, has a
The night before the second banquet, the king could
serious and instructive dimension, as well.
not sleep. He asked a servant to read him the national
It reminds Jews that in each generation they may
chronicles. Coincidentally, the section that was read told
have to confront a Haman. And it reminds us of the
about Mordecai saving the king’s life by reporting an as-
frailty and vulnerability of human life, which can be
sassination plot. The account also showed Mordecai had
wiped out overnight at the whim of a foolish or impul-
At that moment, Haman came in to ask permission
Yet, Purim also affirms that while oppressors will
come and go, God’s promise and covenant with His peo-
The king began the conversation by asking, “What
ple are everlasting. In Mordecai’s time, the calamity was
should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”
averted; the Jews of Persia were saved.
The king was talking about Mordecai, but Haman
thought the king was talking about him. So Haman sug-
This is, indeed, cause for great joy and jubilation.
gested a royal procession so the people would give hon-
by Yechiel Eckstein
or to him and realize that he was the king’s most trusted
Instead of hanging Mordecai, Haman became his
Christians and Jews, Chicago, Illinois
chief attendant in a magnificent pageant.
*Many scholars say Ahasuerus is a Hebrew variation of the
At Esther’s second banquet for the king, she made an
Persian name of Xerxes, who ruled from 486-465 B.C.E.
ACTION GOAL FOR UNIT 2
The purpose of the action goal is Christlike living—not
˾ July 30 through August 5
God Foiled the Plot
Cultivate a thankful memory by finding time each day
There was a time when a plan was in the works to
this week to remember the things God has done in your
kill every Jew in the kingdom of Persia. Think of it: Each
life. Write down some of the key events so you have a
and every Jew in the whole country. What is amazing
written record to remind you in the future.
about this scheme is that it was to be done lawfully. The
˾ August 6 through August 12
king would sign a decree, and the massacre of an entire
group of people would be legal. It was a devious, but
We have a responsibility to share with family and
masterful plan—except for one small detail: God had a
friends the memories of the good things God has done.
counter plan. You might suppose that God would use a
Save your written record to pass on for posterity, but al-
whole army to foil such a far-reaching scheme, but He
so make sure they hear you tell it. Do it this week.
didn’t. In fact, God didn’t use a regiment, or even a
˾ August 13 through August 19
squad. God had a team of two. Two people. That was
enough. God delivered a host of His people from exter-
Spend this week re-examining where you are in life.
mination using Esther and her cousin, Mordecai.
Ask God, “Why am I where I am? Is it where You wantme to be?” It is when you are in the place of His choos-
God Foils Plots All the Time!
ing that He can use you as an instrument of blessing.
Our lives are blessed daily by God’s mighty acts on
˾ August 20 through August 27
our behalf, and we need to do more than simply whis-
per, “Thank You, Lord” at the end of the day.
When Esther was committing her way to the Lord,
Join us for these four weeks as we
she fasted and prayed. If you are physically able, fast a
Recognize the Mighty Acts of God in Our Lives.
meal or a portion of a meal as you recommit your ways
How do you recognize God’s mighty acts? We chal-
lenge you to commit to these four disciplines, one for
As you remember, retell,
re-examine, and recommit
the mighty acts of God in your life,
1. We recognize the mutually supportive roles of the
6. The Bible is lifted up as the fundamental, legitimate,
adult Sunday School, namely nurture, fellowship, and
and practical authority and guide for living today.
7. We desire to allow the powerful Word of God to
The personal and spiritual growth of the in-
speak for itself as adults discover its message, under-
dividual through ongoing encounters with God’s
standing its proper context and application.
Word within a community of believers.
8. These materials show that the Bible tells a unified
Building caring and supportive relation-
and comprehensive story of God’s gracious interac-
tion with people throughout history.
Reaching beyond the group-setting to
9. Encouragement is given to provide an environment
others outside through evangelism, service, and per-
where emphasis is placed on discovering God’s Word
sonal application of session truths.
within a community of believers in contrast to an in-
2. WordAction curriculum is committed to a twofold em-
phasis of both content learning (Word) and life change
10.Knowing that adults learn through a variety of learn-
based on that encounter with the Word (Action).
ing styles, this curriculum encourages a variety of
3. WordAction curriculum is distinctly Wesleyan-Holi-
ness in theological perspective in selection of scrip-
11.We desire to assist the adult leader in personal spiri-
tual growth and excellence in facilitating group
4. We seek to provide the tools and confidence for
adults to read, understand, and live by God’s Word.
12.The importance of daily individual study of God’s
5. This curriculum explores the Bible in its variety of
Word through Scripture memorization and reading is
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