A Day of Darkness and Gloom (RTT)

A Day of Darkness and Gloom (RTT) April 4, 2017

Esther, Ahasuerus, and Haman

For the inaugural post of Random Text Tuesday (RTT), my random-text selector gave me Esther 11:8. This verse comes from the Deuterocanonical (or “Apocryphal”) portion of the book, found in the Greek Septuagint. Coming from a Protestant background myself, I’m not very familiar with the Deuterocanon, but I deliberately included these texts in RTT because I want to get to know them more. I didn’t expect to get one on the first day, but I won’t complain either. Here’s the verse:

It was a day of darkness and gloom, distress and anguish, oppression and great turmoil on the earth. (Esther 11:8, REB)

Quite a text to start us off, eh? While I’m not intending RTT to be particularly political, I also want to follow it openly, wherever the text leads me—and I don’t see how I can avoid being political with this one. If I’m to be honest about my response to the verse, I’d have to say that my initial reaction upon reading is that this has been the state of affairs here in the U.S. ever since the election of our forty-fifth president.

His platform represents a gigantic step backward on every imaginable level. He stands unashamedly opposed to the rights of women, LGBTQ, people of color, Native Americans, Muslims, immigrants, low-income families, and so many others. As if such peoples have not suffered enough oppression already, the current presidency stands ready to reverse every bit of progress we’ve made over the last few years.

Families are being torn apart. Folks are losing access to the most fundamental of necessities. Hate crimes are popping up everywhere. Truly, for many of the most vulnerable people among us, these have been days of darkness and gloom, distress and anguish, oppression and great turmoil. Let’s be honest about this. Let’s not try to sugarcoat it.

But can we be hopeful about these days as well? The book of Esther as a whole would lead us to believe as much.

The story of Esther is the story of a heroine we need today. Esther is a woman, a foreigner of a despised race, having had no previous standing whatsoever, the lowest of the low in the land. Yet she was raised to a position of unimaginable prominence. And rather than simply enjoying her newfound position (something she would have had every right to do!), she risked her own neck to save her people.

God, we need an Esther today, or two, or twenty. And the thing is, they’re already out there! But we (and here I’m referring especially to the folks of privileged white, male, cis-hetero status such as myself) might need to be a bit more deliberate about listening to them.

Kyrie eleison.

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