Our Old Testament lesson is from the end of the book of Esther. This relatively short book contains the dramatic story of a young Jewish woman named Esther, or Hadassah, who through the support of her family as well as her beauty and character became the queen of Persia and saved her people from destruction. This book is one of the five scrolls traditionally read for the sacred festivals of Judaism, in this case for Purim. It is a compelling story, easily read in a single sitting, and it will acquaint you with one of the great heroines of the Bible.
We conclude our series of readings from the letter of James this week with its closing words of encouragement. This letter is filled with wisdom material, as it describes relationships within a community that embodies the love-command. Our passage for this Sunday counsels patience as well as candor and clarity in speech, and it emphasizes the power of prayer over all sorts of sickness. Here again is a relatively brief book that well rewards reading as a whole in a concentrated period of time that allows the reader to be caught up in James’ vision of the beloved community.
The gospel lesson this week continues our reading in Mark, the shortest, most concentrated and direct of the synoptic gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. This week the disciples argue about who should have access to the healing power that Jesus bestows on his followers. Jesus replies, “Whoever is not against us is for us,” and he teaches them the importance of not being impediments, or “stumbling blocks,” for others, or for themselves. “Get out of the way!” Jesus might have said. Or, “Get out of your own way!” in living the life of a disciple.
I hope that you will read and re-read the lessons from scripture each week during your quiet time of reflection and prayer. That is one way that you can “get out of the way” and allow God to speak to you.