I have been at a conference all week where we have been discussing how to organize ourselves to create social change. One of the most fun exercises what a Bible study linking the Book of Esther from Hebrew scripture with organizing for social change.
In the story of Esther, there is no mention of the Divine Name or any prayers offered, instead, it is a primer for racism and overcoming broken political systems.
King Ahasuerus wants his wife, Queen Vashti, to come and show off her beauty to a bunch of drunk men (including the King). She says, “No.” She is then banished because she is a bad example for all women and all women must “know their place.”
Then the King is on a hunt for another wife. Mordecai pimps out Esther and Esther is brought into the royal harem. Why? She is beautiful, but primarily because she found favor with the eunuchs and maid servants. And they taught her how to find favor with the king.
Haman, one of the king’s guys, gets all pissy about Mordecai not bowing to him and asks to write a law that would destroy the Jews. The King is then able to rubber stamp the law (he gives away his ring) while never getting his own hands dirty.
When the new law passes, the Jews and Mordecai where sack cloth and mourn. Esther hears about the situation from the Eunuchs and encourages Mordecai to wear normal clothing. Mordecai then has the Eunuchs relay to her the situation (she was definitely isolated).
Esther convinces the King that this is a bad situation and the injustice that would have wiped out the Jews is fixed.
Yay! Injustice is fixed!
So, we all face injustice in our context. It may be threats to peace, the justice system, economics, poverty, etc. But we all face it! And some are actively working to correct injustice–creating sacred, healing, wholly, holy, space. In organizing ourselves, the question becomes, can we name:
- Who are the Kings?
- Who is the Queen who will lay down their power in order to maintain a just world?
- Who are the Mordecais? Those who would be persecuted?
- Who are the Esthers? The ones who know the King and can be educated as to a new way of living justly?
- And who are the maids and Eunuchs? The ones who are also persecuted and underprivileged? Who may have sympathy for the justice issue?
What is wonderful about this is that it allows us to think creatively rather than to think that those with power are the only ones who can cause change. In this story, everyone becomes a change agent! Change for a more just world is another way of creating sacred space.
So mote it be!
And now for some inspiration from slam poetry, “Addressing Food Inequality.”
Post, Terri Stewart (c) 2014
Terri Stewart ~ a member of our Core Team, comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction with honors and is a rare United Methodist student in the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual.
3 thoughts on “Sacred Space in Opposition”
This and related topics are much on our minds these days and I Ilike the “The Book of Ester” as a blueprint for change. I’ll have to play with that when the responsibilities of the day are handled.
Using slam poetry – and this particular poem – makes it perfect for the wider Group and also for poetry month. Merchant is both endearing and sincere and the piece is perfectly on-topic. Very well done.
Thanks! I listened to a lot of slam poetry trying to find THE ONE to go with this piece. And even though it was imperfect, it was perfect!
It was indeed. 🙂