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Wednesday, September 23

Today’s Readings: Esther 1:1-21; Acts 4:13-31; Psalm 124

There are some pieces of scripture that challenge me. There are others that simply offend me. Today’s reading from Esther is one of those. It offends me because of the blatant sexism that permeates the telling of the story. We are told at the beginning of the story, for example, that Queen Vashti’s “offense” was her refusal to show up at a social function when her drunken husband demanded it. Then things go from bad to worse. The king’s advisor wants to punish Queen Vashti and make an example of her because “it’s not only the king Queen Vashti has insulted. It’s all of us” – the fear being that Vashti’s action would create “a country of angry women who don’t know their place”. Is this for real?! And if that wasn’t bad enough, the author tells us that by making an example of Vashti it will pressure women to show proper respect to their husbands. Male chauvinists of the word probably quote this passage incessantly to support their view that women are simply objects. Ick! So what – if anything – can a progressive person of faith do with such a passage besides berate it for being offensive? Well, I certainly can’t speak for all progressives, but I can speak for myself. As I read this passage, I think that it’s encouraging that some good can come out of even the most offensive situations. While Queen Vashti was removed from her position for what I would consider bogus reasons, it cleared a path for Esther to ascend to the position of queen. As a result of her ascendency to the position, Esther then was able to save the lives of her people when they were threatened later in the story. Holding on to that “silver lining in the cloud” is about the only way I can get through the telling of the story. This gets me to thinking about your life story. Have you experienced things you felt to be incredibly unfair and unjust? Things that you viewed as inexcusable at the time that eventually opened the door for new possibilities in your life or in the life of another? While those unfair/unjust moments can be excruciatingly difficult to live through, the hope that the injustice isn’t the end of the story might be enough to help pull you through. Til next time…

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