4.5.20 COLLECTIVE WORSHIP BLOG
Date: 4th May 2020 @ 11:24am
4.5.20 COLLECTIVE WORSHIP BLOG
SERVICE WEEK 2: A Queen Serves Her People
This act of worship focuses on the story of Esther and the bravery she showed to save her people.
This week’s story, which is special to both Jews and Christians, is about a young lady who was able to use her position as the Queen of Persia to save the lives of thousands of her own people.
A Test of Courage - Story of Esther 2-9 (Read this together with your children)
Jewish families enthusiastically join in the telling of this story in the synagogue every year at the festival of Purim.
Esther was born into a Jewish family who lived in Jerusalem. As a young child, she was taken to be a slave in the palace of Xerxes, the King of Persia. Whilst she lived at the palace the King fell in love with her and chose her to become Queen of the Persian Empire.
However, she kept her Jewish faith a secret. The only person who knew about it was her cousin, Mordecai, who lived near the palace. He warned her to keep it a secret and he arranged to see her each day to check how she was.
So each day, as promised, Mordecai went to the gates of King Xerxes’ palace to see how his cousin Esther was doing now that she had become Queen. At this time, the King appointed a proud nobleman named Haman to the highest office in the land. All the officials bowed low to the ground every time Haman passed by – but one day he noticed that Mordecai would not bow.
He asked his officials why Mordecai was insulting him by not bowing. They explained that Mordecai was a Jew and that the Jews only worship their God. From that moment, Haman took a violent dislike to Mordecai and all the Jewish people. He began to poison the King’s mind against the Jews and persuaded him to issue a royal decree to murder them and seize their property.
Mordecai sent Esther a copy of the decree. He told her to go and see the King and ask him to spare the Jewish people. Esther was overcome with grief when she read the order to destroy the Jewish people but she knew how dangerous it was for her to approach the king. The rule of the palace was that no-one could enter the king’s presence without being summoned, not even the queen, and if they broke this law they would be sentenced to death.
However, Esther was determined to help her people. She prayed and fasted for three days as she thought about what to do. At the end of this, she decided that she must go and see the king, even if it meant that she would die.
She was very afraid when she finally approached the king. However, when king Xerxes saw his queen he was overcome by her beauty and rather than being angry he invited her to a special banquet. He said that when they ate that evening he would grant her anything – all she had to do was ask. The other person he invited to the banquet was Harman.
Haman was delighted when he got his invitation but on his way to the banquet his happiness was destroyed by the sight of Mordecai, refusing to bow down to him.
So Haman demanded that his servants go and build some gallows. After the banquet, he would ask the king to have Mordecai hanged for his disrespect.
That night, at the banquet, the king asked Esther for her request. She said, ‘Grant me, my life.’
The king was confused and asked her what she meant by this. She explained that an order had been sent out to destroy the lives and homes of her people. The king asked who had done this. Esther explained that it was Haman.
When he heard this, the king was furious and realised what Haman had done. He ordered Haman to be taken away and hanged. Haman was executed on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.
From that day, the Jewish people were saved, and the king gave them the right to defend themselves against their enemies. Mordecai was raised to the highest position in the kingdom, next to the king, and Esther was recognized as a women of the greatest courage.
The Jewish people declared a special feast named Purim, so that the deliverance of the Jews from death would be remembered forever.
Reflection (Discuss this together)
Here are some questions to discuss with your children about the story. How do you think Queen Esther felt when:
- She heard about Haman’s plan to kill her people?
- She knew she had to approach the king?
- She prayed and fasted for three days?
- She stood before the king?
- Her people were saved?
Talk more about the Purim celebrations (see www.akhlah.com/holidays/purim/purim.php )
Thank you for our family and friends and for times of celebration that we can share together.
Taking It Further
EYFS & Key Stage 1
- Talk about how the festival of Purim is celebrated. Design a Purim card.
Key Stage 2
- Research and make a poster/presentation about someone who has served others by speaking up and standing up on behalf of their own people, e.g. Nelson Mandela or Ghandi.
I hope you enjoy sharing this act of worship and the ideas in it within your family group this week.
Mr M. Foster,