Deanna writes, "This is a lesson we used for the story of Esther for our intergenerational learning portion of our service. Part of the lesson includes a personal story from my life about a friend of mine and her faith and strength, but you could use your own personal experience."
GAME: Faith, Hope, Courage, Patience
Directions: Before the game distribute cards to adult church members with the words, "Esther's Faith," "Esther's Hope," "Esther's Courage," and "Esther's Patience" written on them (enough for each team to find one).
Teams must rank the cards, the "ingredients," above, in order of importance. Put a 1 next to the most important, a 2 next to the second most important, 3, and then 4. Together with your team go out to find your "ingredients." You need to find the ingredients in the order you ranked them. Ask members of your church if they have the ingredient Esther had that you are looking for. For example, ask, "Do you have Esther's courage?" If they say "yes," they will give you a card with the required ingredient. Take the card and place it in its spot on your team board. If they say "no," you will need to go to another member to ask for the needed ingredient until you find the ingredient you are looking for. You must find the ingredients in the order you ranked them. When your team finds all its ingredients everyone on your team will get a surprise. (We gave all team members lifesavers to remind them of how Esther saved the Jews from destruction.)
Good morning. Before we get started with our story let's try a little experiment - Each of you have two plastic bottles on your tables - they look the same but there is a difference. The one with the cap on is filled with something, something you can't see, but its there. The other bottle is empty. Now for the experiment - have someone at your table pick up the empty bottle and try and squeeze it as hard as you can - see if you can crush it, twist it, break it. Come on - really squeeze. I saw a lot of squashed bottles. Now try the capped bottle - and do the same thing - let's see if we can squash that bottle. Come on put your muscles into it. What happened? (The capped bottle wouldn't crush.) You might have been able to bend it a little bit but it kept going back. This reminds us of a person with faith in God who is stronger because of whom they trust. Faith is what helps helps us survive. Faith itself cannot be seen, but what faith produces can easily be seen, such as strength, courage, peace of mind. The story we're about to tell is about a ordinary girl named Esther who grew up as an orphan. Esther's faith helped her grow into an extraordinary woman who through God, faced her fears to stand up and speak for her nation.
Haman plotted to destroy all the Jews in King Ahasuerus' empire. Moredcai, Queen Esther's cousin, found out about the plot and sent a message to Queen Esther. It read: "Go to the King. Plead with him to save your people." Esther was afraid to do this for she herself might be killed for going to the King without an invitation.
She returned this message: "No one can go to the King without an invitation or they'll die."
Mordecai told Esther: "You'll be killed like all the other Jews. You may be silent, Esther, but God will rescue us another way. Who knows, maybe you've become Queen for just this time."
"Go then, Mordecai," wrote Esther. "Gather the Jews in Shushan. Pray for me for three days. I will do the same. Then I will go into the King. If I die, I die."
Esther dressed in her royal robes, and stood in the King's court. The King, seeing her, held out the royal staff. This was his invitation. "What do you wish, Queen Esther? I'll give you anything."
"I've come to ask the King and Haman to dinner."
"Send word," he commanded. "Today Haman dines with the King and Queen." Soon the King and Haman went into Esther's banquet. "I'll give you anything," said the King. "I'll give you half my kingdom."
"Let my life be
spared," Esther answered. "And don't wipe out my people. We have been sold to be destroyed. No price can pay for this damage to your
empire." Esther didn't have the power to save the Jews by herself, but because of her faith in God she found the courage to approach the King and the lives of her people were saved.
The story we just told you about was about the strength of an ordinary girl. An ordinary girl that God put in an unexpected place, and ordinary woman whose faith gave the strength to do extraordinary things. Because like those bottles, faith can fill us up. Faith can allow us to do things, face things, survive things we would never be able to without it. It doesn't mean we can't be hurt or don't have moments of doubt, like the bottle we may bend but true faith is stronger than fear and brings us back to where we started. It was through her faith Esther was able to find the courage to risk her own life, it was through faith that Esther was able to have the strength to stand up for her people who did not have a voice, it was through God that they were able to survive. I am sure we can all come up with examples of other famous women who had the strength to stand up to do extraordinary things.
What about Rosa Parks? Who can tell me what she stood up for? She have been called the woman who changed a nation. Rosa Parks was tired and weary from a long day of work back in December of 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white man. One woman, one day, one act of courage that began turning the wheels of the civil rights movement on that fateful day.
And Mother Theresa? She dedicated every day of her adult life caring for "The dying, the cripple, the mentally ill, the unwanted, and the unloved." We all know about these women because of the extraordinary things they have accomplished - but what about in your own life - who are the extraordinary women of faith that you know - is it your Mother? Your sister? Your friend? Maybe it is you?
For me it is my friend. She has three young sons, she lives on a farm and she runs her own business. Each one of those activities on their own take faith and courage and strength. Last week we talked about what a leap of faith it is to enter into marriage, and anyone of you with any children or who know anyone with children know the courage and faith it takes to bring a new life into this world, to raise up a child and set them free. But there is more to my friend's story - on an ordinary day less than six months ago, she was in the shower and noticed a lump on her breast. On the same day a few weeks later that the diagnosis of cancer was confirmed she got an unexpected call to come to the hospital because her Father was dying. My friend's life changed on that day. God put her in an unexpected place. But he also filled her with faith and with courage. I don't know how Karen's battle with her disease will turn out but I know that every time I talk to her I am in awe of her faith. She has her good days and she has her bad days and she has her days of doubt. But I already know she has won her battle - I can see the faith she has, you can almost touch it when your with her. And her faith has touched me, changed me. She's just my friend, fighting a disease that has been fought by many before her and will be fought by many after her - but her faith has me stronger.
So I will leave you today with the question I asked before - "Who are the extraordinary people in your life?"
Copyright 2003 Deanna Paris / Karla Wileford
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