Not being a Jew, and unfamiliar with Jewish customs, I googled “Purim” this morning after reading these chapters in Esther. I found that this holiday “is the most fun-filled, action-packed day of the Jewish year.” (chabad.org)
Jews go to the synagogue two times in two days to hear every word of the book of Esther read publicly. Whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, they twirl noisemakers and stamp their feet to “eradicate his evil name.”
The Jews give money and food to at least two needy people during Purim. And they donate to whoever asks, without verifying the need.
Every Jew gives food gifts to at least one Jewish acquaintance. They enjoy a festive meal with family, complete with a beautifully decorated table, and dressed up in their finest clothes or in cheerful costumes.
They eat, and laugh, and sing, and pray. They enjoy remembering the day they, as a nation, were saved thousands of years ago.
Which got me thinking. My own salvation was only a few decades ago. And I can’t begin to tell you how many days, or weeks (or years) go by when I don’t even give that glorious day a thought. Oh, I’m aware of it, and thankful for it. But I don’t think I celebrate that day like it warrants.
As I sit here today, I remember. I remember where I was sitting in the sanctuary of Westwood Alliance Church that February evening. I was a teenager among others in our youth group. I remember the evangelist who played beautiful music by using his fingertips to rub the rims of crystal glasses filled with water to different levels. I remember sitting there, while the congregation sang an invitation hymn, and trying to tell God that my friends would think there was something wrong with me if I went forward. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a bad person. Besides, hadn’t I asked Jesus into my heart when I was in pre-school?
I remember watching my sister go to the altar that night, and knew I had no excuse. God was asking me to take that step, to make Him Lord of my life once and for all. And I did.
I feel like singing!
That day changed my life. I wonder why I don’t celebrate my second birth like I do my birthday. It wouldn’t hurt! I have reason to live generously, lovingly, joyfully because I was born again. Sounds like a party!
God, thank You for this lesson in Esther, and for the Jewish tradition of Purim that has me remembering the day I was saved from my enemy. Thank You for that evangelist, and the words he spoke that night that penetrated my heart. Thank You for forgiving me, for paying my sin debt, for living inside of me all these years later. And because of that day, I can have a fun-filled, action-packed life walking with You. I love You!!