Tales of two queens

Published 2:47 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

It is an interesting week for Bible study in the halls of St. John’s!

First, we read the Book of Esther from the Hebrew Scriptures with the Additions to Esther in the Apocrypha for our Wednesday night Bible Study.

Then there is the combination of readings for tomorrow’s celebration of Trinity Sunday and Monday’s celebration of Memorial Day.

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Holding in contrast, the comparison of two great queens—Vashti and Esther—with the community of the God head and the commemoration of our country’s war-time experience has certainly made for a plateful!

Vashti and Esther came up against the absolute power of an arrogant king.

Vashti lost her crown in the conflict, but Esther managed to set her sail rightly into both the winds of political conflict and the spirit of God’s working in her land.

Esther found a way to save herself and her people because she had the courage to tell the truth to power. Her husband, the king, as portrayed in her story, is not an evil man, just careless and thoughtless. As a king, he seems much more interested in showing off his wealth than in governing thoughtfully and compassionately.

When crunch came to whammy, Esther told the king what was really going on and he realized he had made a serious error. He allowed his prime minister to set up one group of his subjects against another. Divisions shatter peace, so he issued proclamations to fix things. But blood still ran in the streets—people were killed and property was ravaged. All because he was consumed with keeping for himself all that he could acquire and showing it off to his peers. Out-doing the Joneses, ancient style!

The scriptures appointed for Trinity Sunday begin with a trumpet sound from Proverbs that should stop us in our tracks: Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?

Not the call of wealth or power or knowledge or skill or connections. The call of wisdom, the call of understanding. These are the synthesis of knowledge and skill and power and connections and wealth with compassion and justice and serving others thrown in. The strength of individuals is shared in the community to the building up of all.

Our clearest picture as Christians of “community” is the Trinity—God is one, God is three. Father, Son and Holy Spirit—Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Three revealed to us in Scripture and in our lives. This is the central mystery of the Christian faith. We affirm this mystery in our creeds and prayers, we experience the mystery in our lives, and we know that we will never be able to understand or explain it even as we live within it.

The early Christian Church often pictured the Holy Spirit as feminine. For the wholeness of community to exist, our conversation about God must include the feminine if we believe the earlier story of our—male and female—being made in the image of God. We experience God as Father and Mother, Jesus as Brother and Sister. The Holy Spirit calls us to the community of faith in Himself and Herself.

We reflect this community as we reach out in witness to the world that there is a better way. Poverty, despair, hunger, violence, war—these are not the fruits of God’s community. We must extend our hands and work together for peace, justice and enough for each one, not just plenty for me, mine and ours.

We pray often that the holy, catholic and apostolic church may be one as God is One.

Isn’t it time we started living that way?