Homily for Day Three of Provincial Synod 2019
Friday 27 September
Day 3 Homily 3
Esther 8: 1-8, 15-1
- There was restorative justice for Esther and her people. What might restorative justice look like for you, especially your worshipping community?
- Who in your opinion has the power to bring about restorative justice? Consider where you live and work and worship
- Are there ways in which ACSA can bring practical ways of restoration to God’s people? How can we use our policies and legislation to restore hope and healing to breathe new life into God’s people?
by Natalie Simons Arendse
Haman has been disposed of and now we see Esther begging the king to write a counter decree that will undo the one that called for the annihilation of the Jews. Esther has explained her relationship with Mordecai, and she is given Haman’s estate which Mordecai now gets to manage for her.
The king doesn’t write the new decree that will bring restoration for the Jews; he gives that honour to Mordecai and it is sealed with his signet ring.
Now the lectionary for some reason omits verses 9-14 of chapter 8; but let’s review what the story behind the story is for leaving these verses out.
Read verses 9-14 – The king’s secretaries were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. He wrote letters in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed them with the king’s ring, and sent them by mounted couriers riding on fast steeds bred from the royal herd. By these letters the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, with their children and women, and to plunder their goods on a single day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of the it was to be issued as a decree in every province and published to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take revenge on their enemies. So the couriers, mounted on their swift royal steeds, hurried out, urged by the king’s command. The decree was issued in the citadel of Susa.
Mordecai is now second in command of the kingdom and the power dynamics have shifted. He writes the new decree which gives the Jews an opportunity to take revenge. Mordecai was one of the victims of the abuse of power but now that he has power, power that is rightfully Esther’s because she is promised up to half of the kingdom; he becomes the perpetrator. The oppressed has now become the oppressor. The child who is bullied can become the bully.
BUT this is NOT what Esther had put her life on the line for. If I perish, I perish..
Esther advocates for abundant life.
As we conclude this synod, having reviewed some of our practices and policies; and as we review how Mordecai placed ashes on his body as he lamented the decision by the king to have the Jews killed; we as the people of ACSA must rise out of the ashes of our complacency and write new decrees.
We must write new decrees for those who are not here, for the oppressed and marginalised, for women and children; for the disenfranchised and the environment; and for members of the LGBTQI community.
26 years ago, this church wrote the decree that would allow women to be ordained as priests and bishops. It was a painful process to get to that point. Policies and decisions had to be overturned and rewritten, but what a Kairos moment it was. ACSA is better for it, our churches and communities are better for it and God’s church has not yet collapsed!
It is not by coincidence that you are here attending this synod helping to make decisions that will breathe abundant life into all of God’s people.
Let’s not do what Mordecai did, he became the perpetrator; instead we should do what Esther did; she had decrees written that would give life in abundance as Jesus Christ intended for each one of us.
We came to review, to renew and to restore…. We are here for such a time as this.