Nope. Not Steak.

Mitchell Point 

  • Windy
  • Cold
  • Snow, sleet

Crawled

  • Later could handle

Risk.

  • This what passes for risk in my life
  • It’s nothing compared to Queen Vashti’s risks

***

Queen Vashti

  • married to King Ahasuerus
    • not a good guy
    • some evidence their marriage arranged by powerful men
  • 450 or so years before Jesus
  • this episode serves to set up the story of Esther

Vashti’s status quo

  • pseudo power
    • hosting women’s parties
  • manipulated
  • beholden to Ahasuerus
  • gets to be a Barbie doll

So what’s going on here?

  • Vashti has responded to Ahasuerus with yes in the past
  • This time she says “no”
  • Why is unclear

She says no to:

  • being leered at by hundreds of drunken construction workers
    • Hebrew: banquet = “to drink” (NIB One-Volume, TD)
    • 180 day Persian festival of debauchery
    • culminated in 7 days of drinking
  • ogling — some scholars think naked

She says no to 

  • the image of herself as one to be possessed and controlled

Alice Walker…

Alice Walker poem, La Vaca (cow)

Look
into
her eyes
and know:
She does not think
of
herself
as
steak.

Queen Vashti says yes to

  • God’s image of her
    • created in God’s image

Like all humans

  • created from metaphorical dust
  • comes to life when God’s breath becomes her breath
    • within her is God’s very breath

[PAUSE]

***

After Vashti says “no”

  • Ahasuerus convenes his cabinet
  • legal scholars
  • what to do? what to do?

The solution is to tighten control of women

  • new law
  • restrictive law for whole Persian empire

[sigh]

Of course, new law is not enough

  • Vashti must be punished as an example
    • ambiguous what happened
    • some say just loss of wealth & power
      • (as much as a woman could have)
  • many think she lost her life

[PAUSE]

***

In our storyline

  • Vashti sets us up for Esther
  • Vashti’s courage and risk taking foreshadow Esther’s risks

When she chooses God’s dream for her, Vashti takes great risk.

  • she risks and loses
    • modicum of power
    • status
    • probably her life
  • maybe she tried small steps
    • crawling like I did on Mitchell Point?

As a middle class white guy

  • it takes heights to risk life & limb
  • for Vashti it took seeing herself as God’s own

To be sure, many others have risked like Vashti risks

  • people of color
  • women
  • those sexually abused
  • those imprisoned
  • LGBTQAI

[PAUSE]

Jesus was asked, what is the greatest commandment?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 

The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” —Mark 12:30-31

To love our neighbor is a risky endeavor

  • like Queen Vashti
    • starts with seeing/accepting image of God within ourselves
  • when we love ourselves, we can love our neighbors
  • we can see the divine image within our neighbors only when we love ourselves

We are called to love our neighbors AS ourselves.

Vashti’s embracing the royal divinity within

  • will lead to Esther to be in a position to save her people

***

This church has a history of taking risks to love neighbor

  • you strive to be inclusive as Jesus taught
  • you strive to love your neighbor like the Good Samaritan who crossed cultural boundaries to do so

In so doing, you’ve undoubtedly earned the disdain of some other Christians. 

  • Where I came from I was told I wasn’t Christian because my church strived to love as God loves.

Saying yes to God’s expansive love is never easy. 

  • It is risky.
  • Just ask Queen Vashti.

Loving like Jesus requires letting go of what the culture teaches about who deserves and who is worthy of love and respect.

Vashti and Esther lived in “just such a time as this”

  • a time when the powerful pushed others down to maintain power
  • it’s probably always been like this

But Jesus teaches another way, a way in which we love ourselves and we love our neighbors. Amen.

__

This was my first sermon preached (on March 5, 2017) as the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Albany, Oregon.

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Tim strives to share God’s extravagant love for all–no matter what & without strings. Seeking to follow the lure of the Spirit, Tim writes about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in an era where Christianity has come to be associated with hatred and political wedge issues. “Heinous things have been said & done (& still are) in the name of the One who breathed in the Divine,” notes Tim, “but Jesus shows us that God loves extravagantly.” Following the teachings and life of Jesus is about inclusion not exclusion. It is about compassion, grace, and admitting no one has all the answers. It is about responding lovingly to the best of our human ability. It is about people not institutions. It is about social justice. It is about caring for creation. It is about being who we were each created to be. Tim is a former early childhood educator, a runner, a hiker, a devoted husband, father of two adult children and their spouses, and a grandfather of two perfect babies. The former pastor of the Condon United Church of Christ, Tim recently began serving the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Albany, Oregon. He writes from home, from the coffee shop, and wherever the trail leads him.

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Posted in Esther, Esther 1, Esther 1:10-22, Lent, Mark, Mark 12, Mark 12:30-31, Sermon

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Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

All materials by Tim Graves unless otherwise noted. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

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