Posted on: 2nd December 2019
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
What do you look forward to the most at Christmas? I love talking to people about their traditions and habits. For some, they begin the season on November the 1st, the day after Halloween. The end of the celebration brings a 54-day anticipation of celebrating the ‘Light of the World’. For others, 25th November marks a month to go and is a legitimate mark for beginning to prepare. But the 1st December and the opening of the first advent calendar surely is the latest someone would choose to begin the anticipation.
In the gospel of Matthew, the writer begins by giving the build up to Jesus. He marks the significance of his birth to Mary, recording the genealogy from Abraham and from King David. This was a significant marker for those who were expecting the Messiah, because it fulfilled many of the prophecies that in the books of the prophets.
Three characters drew my attention this week as I read the ancestral list. Please take time this week to read Matthew 1, and let me know who stands out for you. For me, it was the mention of the female characters, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Uriah’s wife. I encourage you to have a look at the stories of these characters. For me, their stories speak of good coming from bad and God’s redemption of taking something broken and turning it in to something beautiful.
Whatever your tradition in the build up to Christmas, can I encourage you to consider the message of salvation and forgiveness that comes because Jesus came. He is the reason for the season.
Posted on: 17th March 2017
“And who knows but that you have come to the royal palace for such a time as this.”
Within Saint Wilfrid’s we have often spoken about patience as one of our pebbles or similarly perseverance in our own situations. The Old Testament person we are looking at this week demonstrates both patience and persevere in ways we could never imagine. Of course, it is the story of Esther.
Several noticeable things within the account of Esther stand out from the rest, for one the book of Esther, found after Nehemiah but before Job, does not even mention God once. Who would have thought, a story in the bible that does not mention God, or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, yet, this is more significant than we could think. For those that believe in God and are a Christian, how often do we walk around saying, “I am doing this because I believe in God,” or “I am doing this because God told me to?” It is more likely that we just do the act because God has placed it on our hearts to do so. In time, people may ask why Christians do what they do, but most of the time it’s the little acts and moments, like in Esther’s story, that we just get on with because of their faith.
However, what can we take away beyond our acts from the story of Esther?
Most important thing to note is God loved the Jewish people. Remember the Jewish people were the people who followed God before Jesus came in the New Testament to take away the sin of the world. Though the Jews were in a time of adversity, they still mattered to God and, He didn’t create Esther’s beauty and finesse for her and her alone. God placed Esther in a royal position to assist in the delivery of his divine plan, to take care of the Jewish people in the land. Mordecai, Esther’s Uncle who adopted her, said, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the royal palace for such a time as this” (Esther 4 v 14).
Esther used both the time and position she had been given to follow God’s plan that was in her heart. So, her story also taught us that God gives us divine moment to alter our circumstances. What circumstances are you in now that you wish to change? Do you let the ‘coincidences’ pass you by or do you take the divine chances you have to make a difference to make a change? Remember altering the course of your life by one degree now will change its direction in a dramatic way one, five, or ten years down the line. Is there a slight correction you could seek God’s help for now in order to make your future better?
Finally, one more thing we can take away from Esther’s story is that Esther’s entire story, although only 10 chapters in the bible, is that it did not happen overnight. Esther’s story took years to unfold, yet she stuck with is and pursued God and her faith first before all else.
We have spoken about Moses who served God for 80 years before God used him to lead a nation. We have mentioned Noah who followed and sought God so fervently he built and ark for him which took ages. We have thought of Samuel who dedicate his entire life to following the call of God and seeing two kings to the throne. While this week we look at the story of Esther, a woman with a heart for God, let us not forget the impact that she also had on a whole nation because she did not deviate from her calling.