For Such a Time As This
The title was a test. Did you pass?
I am holding true to my mention of writing about Esther. Well, I am more going to explain how I have come to love Esther so much, and how I am hoping that I can get a small group of 5th grade boys to love her too.
When we moved back home, Connor was three months old. We were going to church at the church I grew up in, and I didn't consider myself a very recovered Christian at that time. I was going through the motions, but I wasn't really seeking a relationship with God. I hardly read my Bible, and I didn't feel very "good". But my mom didn't know that, and she didn't really care I don't think, because that next summer, the summer that Connor turned one, she volunteered me to be the new Stars leader. One of the women was stepping down, and the head of Missionettes was freaking out. Well, I couldn't very well back out of it since it was my mom who said I would, so I said yes.
I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, and, ironically enough, I was a Stars drop-out. I had quit in the 6th grade because I didn't think it was cool any more. God has a twisted sense of humor sometimes.
The very first badge that I chose to do with my girls was Esther. I had always loved that book of the Bible, and I had a great idea for a paper doll with pretty dresses to go with the story. Yeehaw. Now, as I enter my eighth leader of being a Stars leader, I have done the Esther badge three times. The first and second times were good. But the third time...
You see, just over two years ago, our women's Bible study group went through the Esther study by Beth Moore. I can't even tell you how much that study helped me understand Esther and Xerxes and the whole situation. It was all new! And exciting, and scandalous, and kind of gory. Not the light and fluffy fairytale story I had alway skimmed off of the surface. We dug deep, into the grit and gut-wrenching fear and explored how God always works things according to His purpose, and usually in ways we least expect.
So, the third time I went through the Esther badge with my new group of girls, I spent the entire time with goosebumps. It was so much more real and meaningful. And we had a WAY cooler craft. Some of my girls from my first and second groups came back in to say hi, and they were so jealous.
Back to the present. Jason is now leading a Royal Rangers group on Tuesdays (he has come a long way in the last eight years), but his work schedule is messing with that right now. So, when he saw that their next Bible merit was Esther, he asked me to help. I am hanging out at the church anyway, waiting for the boys to get done in their class. So, once again, I couldn't say no. I teased him a bit about how Esther is a book for girls... but he didn't fall into my web, so it wasn't fun anymore, and I lost interest.
On Tuesday night, I started the boys off by asking them if they knew who Esther was. Here's how the conversation went:
Me: "Does anyone here know who Esther is?"
Boy 1: "I do. He's that one guy, you know..."
Me: "That one guy?"
Boy 2: "Isn't he the guy who helped that one other guy that had the slingshot?"
Boy 2: "Yeah, him!"
Me: "Sorry, you are so not even close."
Boy 3: (looking wisely in Bible) "I know. He's a queen!"
Me: "Okayyyyy, so if he is a queen, then he is a she.... Right? Yes, you are right. Esther was a queen."
Well, at least I had a blank slate to work with.
So, we started in on the story. We read just a few verses in the first chapter, and I explained about who King Xerxes was and how he ended up without a queen (minus all the drinking and harem stuff). Then we likened the pageant to American Idol or another one of those types of shows... you know, Persian Queen. Only the contestants didn't try out, they were taken by soldiers. And no one got to vote except the king.
The point that they were supposed to glean from that part of the story was that Esther had to stand up for what was right, and say no, even though she was in a scary situation. Esther didn't eat the food presented to her during her time at the palace (Again, ix-nay on the arem-hay. I am just not ready to explain that whole deal to children.), and she didn't try and overdress and bejewel herself when it was her turn to see King Xerxes. And suprise, becuase she held true to her values and didn't give in, King Xerxes saw something in her that he didn't see in any of the other women. God placed her as Queen of Persia.
Then we brought it back to real life and talked about times we had to say no to something even when we felt pressured to follow along. And then one of the boys asked why Jews didn't celebrate Christmas. "Jesus was a Jew. Why don't Jewish people celebrate Jesus' birthday?" That got us off subject for a bit, because I had to applaud him for his good point and use that teachable moment.
Once we got back on topic, we dove into the next segment of the story. The theme was sticking with doing what was right, even when it was hard. Then, I got to explain who Mordecai and Haman were. By that time, I was pretty excited and gesturing a lot, and I decided I needed to draw a stick people diagram.
Nerdy and not well done, I know. But I didn't want them getting all confused and throwing Jesus or David back into the story. And, now I am dead set that anyone I teach Esther to just has to understand all the relationships and triangles going on. We made it through to the decree and how Haman had tricked the king into signing a law that would eventually result in the death of his queen and her people. They were getting it, and I think I almost had them on the edge of their seats. And then...
They heard the other classes running out to the gym for dodgeball.
I know. Fifth grade boys. And they chose a rowdy, sweaty, dangerous game of dodgeball over hearing the rest of the story of Esther. I was shocked.
So, until next week. I hope you all are hanging on the edge of your virutal seats.
And yes, I did give Haman a dunce cap and a pig nose.