God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Never doubt this! Our past doesn’t dictate our future. God can use anyone, whatever their background. Esther is endless encouragement to us in the power of the Holy Spirit, whatever we're facing or feeling. Our continued online resources accompanying this weekly blog piece: Wednesday Worship with Adam at 6pm on our church Facebook page, Sunday word & worship at 1030 on our church facebook page for all, and there's a new daily series in John's gospel on Johnny's personal Facebook page, This Sunday we'll continue our 'hospitality at home ' after church via an 1115 Zoom group church conversation; sign-in details are in the church family email sent by Sue.
There's a new pastoral letter reflecting what we are about, and whats ahead best we can perceive it: We'd value your prayers for our next PCC mtg set for this Monday 15th June.
Thank you for your care, love & sharing of the PPE, knitted hearts, Asda cards and other love shown and shared with our church family and wider community.
We await government, national and diocesan church guidelines before we return to our church buildings. It will be some time! The limitations are very real. Bishop James has shared his reflections on the way ahead here...
If you or others you know are struggling, do be in touch with Pauline Pearson our Pastoral Care Team leader. Direct any queries if you wish to email@example.com
The CofE offer a free-phone whereby older, non-techy people can dial-up for a sermon, hymn or prayer. It’s refreshed daily. 0800 804 8044.
Revised date for this years APCM is set for 18th October.
Here are the details for your giving: the bank details are Swanley St. Paul PCC Acc: 80859710 Sort code 20-25-42. Please email Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and we will gladly assist. Although our church buildings continue to be closed, God is very much on the move in our communities and we are here to support, encourage and resource many more at this time.
Keep on recording your daily thankfulness... yes in every season!
Today in our scattered 1030 online offering, I'll be speak on choices from part-2 in our June series in the book of Esther, we'll have Karen reading scripture, Angela sharing an all-age moment and Di sharing everyday faith! Here are resources for our children and families around gentleness, and for our youth regarding Esther! Here's the link to the overview & series resources, and a calling & courage spotify playlist to accompany this series in Esther! Truly no obscure Hebrew is required!
Choices, with Esther pt-2
Esther’s Dilemma and Decision
In the face of opposition and challenge, what will we stand for?
How are we spending our time and unfolding history?
God is sovereignly active and always at work!
God is active even in times of grief, v1-4
Show it, live it, be true in it…
God is active even in situations that are overwhelming, v5-12.
Weakness is always an invitation to meet God’s strength!
2 Corinthians 3:5“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God . . .”
God is active even in circumstances from which we can't escape, v13-14.
God places His people in such situations so that we trust Him! v14-17
God is never in a hurry…
What is your ‘for such a time as this!’?
Questions for personal reflection & life group sessions
Choices Part 2 Read Esther 4:1-17
Hitler was not the first to desire to kill all Jews. Haman is an Agagite, ancient enemies of Israel - Exodus 17 v 16; Deuteronomy 25 v 17-19. He is appointed second in command in the empire, a position requiring homage to him but Mordecai refuses. In revenge Haman decides to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom, an act of genocide, to which the king agrees. Haman’s plan to destroy a nation is disproportionate to Mordecai’s offence. Mordecai enlists Esther’s help and, like Vashti and Mordecai, she has to decide how she is going to respond to the King's command.
1. What do we learn about Mordecai’s character? Why did he refuse to bow to Haman? What other scriptures does this remind you of?
2. History has shown that there is a force at work in the world bent on destroying God's people. Jeffery Goldberg claims that ‘an ancient and deeply embedded hostility towards Jews is re-emerging in our day’. How then do we live as ‘salt and light’ in our society?
4. What personality traits does Haman have that God hates? See Prov 6 v 16-19.
5. In v 8-9, we see further examples of incitement to fear and greed and cultivation of prejudice (see also 1 v 17). Is there a 'spirit of Haman' at work in the world today? What examples of this do we see in society today and how should we respond?
6. Ch.4 vs1-3 and 15-16: Mordecai, the Jews, Esther and her handmaidens fasting remind me of Nehemiah when he heard about Jerusalem - Nehemiah 1 v 1-11. What place do mourning, fasting and repentance have in our Christian walk today?
8. How do we respond to vs 13-14?
What have been the defining moments of our lives to date?
9. ‘God has placed us wherever we are for His reasons: to do His will and represent Him in our fallen world.’ What is Esther’s strategy and why is this important vs16-17?
10. Dianne Tidball said “How frequently we are reluctant to even go as far as risking embarrassment in order to question what is not right.” How do we manage potential conflict? Are we content to remain silent rather than speak out for the truth?
Pray – ask God to forgive the spirit of racism and prejudice; ask God to ‘create a clean heart’ that loves all people and for opportunities to step out in obedience and build tangible relationships with ‘these people’ who are different to us.
Pray ‘Lord, use me’ each day, this week and see what happens!
Points to ponder
Haman had unjustly risen to a position of power; he was ‘rewarded’ when Mordecai was forgotten. Mordecai and Esther come to the place of access to the King through the wickedness of others but both make clear decisions to live honourably in the court’.
‘God is invisibly at work making even life’s disappointments a link in a chain of good things to come.’ Karen Jobes