Tonight at sundown the Jewish holiday of Purim, or Lots, begins. There are several fun rituals associated with Purim, read more here, but the one that I’m interested in today is the ritual obligation to read the book of Esther.
This obligation is not, however, a dry reading by oneself in a quiet room, rather the reading is done in public with the congregation’s participation. One, the book may be read in a language the people understand instead of Hebrew. Another method of participation is that whenever Haman’s name is read, all 54 times, the congregation makes enough noise to blot out his name. Lastly, there is a carnival-like feel in many communities including plays, special foods, and costume wearing. All of this participation is to draw folks into the text, to make the salvation of the Jewish people in Esther’s day salvation today.
When was the last time we read a biblical text and felt that kind of connection? When was the last time that the salvation we see in the Gospel made real for us today? When was the last time we didn’t just read the stories in the bible but inhabited those stories?
As Christians, we do not celebrate Purim but we have our own festivals and celebrations. Think about how we can live into our texts, how those stories can inform our narratives today.
If you’ve got a few minutes tonight, read Esther tonight or tomorrow. If don’t have that much time, read a shorter text, like Mark’s Passion (Mark 14-16) and imagine what salvation would look like today.