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Published by John Burton

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Published by: John Burton on Jun 02, 2010
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For this month’s Reflection, we turn to ashort book of the Bible that narrates oneof the great events in the history of thePeople of Israel. First, let’s meditate onsome passages from the Book of Estherand then draw some timely conclusions.Esther was a Jew, selected by the PersianKing Xexres, who reigned from 486 to 465BC, to be his queen. The story linerevolves around this beautiful and regalJewess raised to a position of prominencespecifically to be an instrument of God insaving yet once again the Chosen People.Let’s focus now on some of the passages:
“This is what happened during the time of  Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127  provinces stretching from India to Cush(the upper Nile region). At that time King  Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in thecitadel of Susa, and in the third year of hisreign he gave a banquet for all his noblesand officials. The military leaders of  Persia and Media, the princes and thenobles of the province were present. For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealthof his kingdom and the splendor and gloryof his majesty. When these days were over,the king gave a banquet lasting seven days,in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest…Queen Vashti also gave abanquet for the women in the royal palaceof King Xerxes. On the seventh day…King  Xerxes commanded the eunuchs who served him…to bring before
him QueenVishta, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles…But…Queen Vishta refused tocome. Then the king became furious and burned with anger…’According to law,what must be done to Queen Vashti?’ heasked…Memucan (one of the advisors)replied, ‘If it pleases the king, let him issuea royal decree…that Vashti is never againto enter the presence of King Xerxes…Alsolet the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.…Let a search be made for a beautiful young virgin for the king.’…Now there was in thecitadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of  Benjamin, named Mordecai…who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Mordecai had a cousin name Hadassah,also known as Esther, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother…(She) was lovely in form and  features…Esther was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem…He moved 
her and her maids into the best place in the harem. Esther had not revealed her nationalityand family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so…Before a girl’sturn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beautytreatments…Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her…Now the king wasattracted to Esther more than to any of theother women…So he set a royal crown onher head and made her queen instead of Vashti…After these events, King Xerxeshonored Haman son of Hammedatha,elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles…But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor…Haman becameenraged. Yet 
having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned theidea of killing only Mordecai. Instead  Haman looked for a way to destroy all 
 Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes…Haman said to King Xerxes, ‘There are a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate.Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey theking’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases theking, let a decree be issued to destroythem.’…When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into thecity, wailing loudly and bitterly…Esther  summoned one of the eunuchs assigned toattend her and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why… Mordecai gave him a copy of the text of theedict for the annihilation of the Jews and told him
to urge her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead withhim for her people…She instructed him to say to Mordecai, ‘All the king’s officialsand the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman whoapproaches the king in the inner court without being summoned, the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The onlyexception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I wascalled to go to the king.’…Mordecai sent back this answer: ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house youalone of all the Jews will escape. For if  you are silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will come fromanother place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have royal position
for such atime as
this?’ Then Esther sent this replyto Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast for me. Donot eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do.When this is done, I will go to the king,even though it is against the law. And if I  perish, I perish.’…On the third day Esther  put on her royal robes and stood in theinner court of the palace, in front of theking’s hall. The king was sitting on hisroyal throne in the hall, facing theentrance. When he saw Queen Esther  standing in the court, he was pleased withher and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king asked: ‘What is it,Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.’ ‘If it pleases the king,’ replied  Esther, ‘let the king, together with Haman,come today to a banquet I have prepared  for him.’…Haman went out that day happyand in high spirits. But when he saw  Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage. His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him,‘Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning tohave Mordecai hanged on it…The king and Haman went in to dine with Queen Esther and the king again asked, ‘Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you.’…Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favor with you,O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life – this is my petition. And  spare my people – this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation…King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he? Where is the man whohas dared to do such a thing?’ Esther said,‘The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.’…The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden…One of the eunuchs attending theking said, ‘A gallows stand by Haman’s house…The king said,‘Hang him on it!’ So they hanged  Haman on the gallows he had prepared for  Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided…Mordecai the Jew was second inrank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in highesteem by his many fellow  Jews, because he worked for the good of 
his people and spoke up for thewelfare of all the Jews.” 
I strongly
recommend this Book of the Bible formeditation; it is a story of treachery andtriumph, fear and heroism. Now, whatdoes it mean for us? I believe that this isa story for our own time, and here is why:The national election is now over and wehave the first African-AmericanPresident-Elect in history – actually aman who is bi-racial, son of an immigrantand raised by a single mother. Obviouslythe American people have spoken, andtime will tell if the choice was a wise one.Many people are jubilant and excited;many others – though less to be sure – aredisappointed and even fearful. Let’s putpolitics aside, for they have no place inthis Reflection. Let’s focus, rather, onwhat is a major issue and a majorconcern: The sanctity of life from theconception to death. Even though thereare other important issues for the life andwelfare of our nation, the issue of abortion was, and is, the #1 andoverriding issue for me. Our newPresident-Elect, in his interview withRick Warren, said in reply to the questionas to when life begins, “That is above mypay-grade.” And that, to me, is horrific.Please, again note that I am not being atall political. I believe that ourresponsibility now is to support ourPresident, pray for him, seek God’sguidance for him. But the fact is that,without a miraculous intervention(definitely possible through prayer), thekilling of unborn babies will continue.We are at about 48,000,000 (that’smillion!) in our country since the Roe v.Wade decision, about 4,000,000 a year.Put that in perspective with the EuropeanHolocaust during World War II, one of the most terrible acts of genocide inhistory. The Holocaust had 6,000,000victims; that is only about 13% of theAmerican Holocaust. So, brothers andsisters, the unborn babies are representedby the Jewish people in exile during thetime of Esther. They are beingslaughtered, just as the Jews then almostwere. In the words of the Holy Spiritspoken through Mordecai:
“Who knowsbut that you have done to royal position for  such a time as this?” 
Our royal position isbeing members of the Body of Christ, aliving priesthood joined with the ultimatePriesthood, that of our Lord Jesus Christ.We do not have to approach the Kingwith fear, but we do indeed need to havethe courage to stand up and proclaim thesanctity of life – even at the risk of beingseen as narrow-minded or fanatical. Andhere is the bottom line of this Reflection:Folks, regardless of our politicalpersuasions, all American Christians arecalled by God to pray, pray fervently, forour nation and for our elected officials.This is my opinion: We just cannotexpect God to continue blessing theUnited States of America when wecontinue to kill so many of the mostinnocent citizens of our nation. Theeconomy is important, to be sure; but itpales in comparison to the seriousness of the life issue. And, finally, I firmly andpassionately believe that God will indeedperform miracles within the hearts of people when His people pray that Hisperfect will be done. There may be otherreasons why Barack Obama is ourPresident-Elect, reasons that we simplycannot know with our limited knowledge.But I do know without the shadow of adoubt that the hearts of people who – inall good conscience – support abortionrights can be changed. We are the oneswho at this time need to be ferventlypraying, not with the spirit of thePharisee but with that of the Publican – with repentance for our own sins first,and then for the awakening of our greatnation.
“How to Dance in the Rain: It was a busymorning, about 8:30, when an elderlygentleman in his 80’s arrived to havestitches removed from his thumb. Hesaid he was in a hurry, as he had anappointment at 9:00. I took his vital signsand asked him to take a seat, knowing itwould be over an hour before someonewould be able to see him. I saw him

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