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Persevere in Prayer (sermon Deanery Council Meeting February 22, 2024)

Esther chapter 14 is from a different manuscript of Esther than the one found in the 66 books of the Bible. That is the Hebrew version. The reading for Thursday of the first week if Lent comes from the greek version which gives more details.

We all remember the atory of Eather, the Hebrew girl who became queen to a Babylinian king. Our passage follows on from Mirdecai telling Esther that she must speak to the King about Haman's plan. She along with the whole community go into prayer and fasting to get the insight and strength to do what MordecI has asked.

Queen Esther first of all acknowledges that God is the only King. There is no other being like God. Then she prays for God to save her people, while confessing their sins of worshipping the gods and idols of Babylon.  She prays that the hearts of those plotting against her people would be turned.  She prays for strength for herself and her people to resist the evil, and to be rescued from danger and death.

She prays for the right words to use when she goes to speak toArtaxerxes.

We know the outcome of Esther's prayer. Haman's plot was found out and whatever plan he had for Mordecai (Esther's uncle) he suffered that same fate.

Esther lived in a time of plenty distraction; In a time when the popular Babylonian culture was not how she or her people wanted to live. Her people were being called to bow to idols and there was a plot afoot to irradicate her people. Today the world isn't any different. The powerful seek to silence those who oppose. We ourselves seek to quell opposing voices within our own congregations. Everybody doesn't have an equal voice. Some persons may be giving good advice, telling us the changes we need for better congregational life and church xommunity, but because of who they are, their voice is not heard or they are dismissed.

Friends we can no longer afford to do this. Further we here gathered as Deanery Council must make our voices heard. Any change we want to see must begin with us and we must take it to God in prayer.

Esther's story shows how powerful prayer is. It is the same as in Matthew 7:7 centuries later where Jesus says "ask and it will be done". It is the same for us today. The injustices the crime, the indiscipline and anger in our children can only be changed by guidance from God through prayer. Both readings Esther 14:1-6, 12-14, and Matthew 7:7-12 in this lenten season when penitence and prayer is dutifully practiced, we are reminded to persevere in prayer. It is not about decreeing and declaring what we want God to say. But it is about always being fervent in asking God for guidance like Esther.

The passage says:

  • She fled to the Lord.

  • She asked God to make godself known. She didn't tell God what to do or how to do God's work.

  • She prayed that her will would be aligned to God's. "Gve me speech", "give me strength:.

May we my brothers and sisters too pray for strength and courage in these very difficult days, particularly at this Deanery Council meeting. Amen.

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