Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Celebrating Purim

First, as always, a quick history of Purim.

This holiday, while described and established in the Bible, was not one of the festivals commanded by God as part of handing down of the law. Instead, it was established by the Jews in exile after Queen Esther took bold steps to save her people from the wicked plans of Haman.

The fact that this is not a feast established by God but by people probably explains a lot about the drunkenness and silliness that go into the holiday. That doesn't mean it's not a great reminder about some spiritual truths.

Some that stood out for me:

1. There's always a chance I am where I am so God can use me.

2. Being used can be very scary.

3. If I don't step up, God has other plans in place that don't involve me. But not stepping up can also bring some pretty horrible consequences.

Now to the party. It had been a long time since the last feast, Hanukkah. So long, in fact, that I didn't know if I could awaken the excitement in myself to finish this project. Once I started reading about Purim, though, I was all in.

There are several aspects of celebrating Purim. Costumes, the telling of the Esther story, giving to the poor, sharing food with friends, and special dessert cookie. I was all in.

For the guest list, I took the size of our home into consideration. It's a small place. 8-10 is the ideal guest list. It would have to be for ladies only, just for the sake of space. Problem was, I had about 50 "best friends" I wanted to invite. For this holiday, I wanted to have a mix of people who don't usually spend time together. The fact that Purim fell on the same night as youth group also played a factor.

We needed a theme (Royalty) and a menu (Mediterranean) and some activities. Rather than making my guests act out the play, I opted for a short video version of the Esther story. I provided noise makers so we could blow them at the sound of Haman's name, may it be blotted from the earth. (I loved the suggestion that we should take the noisemakers to church next time we study Esther. Wouldn't that be something!)

Throw in a couple of silly games and a bunch of balloons and we were good to go!

Purim wasn't so much about learning deep spiritual truth. It was more of a chance to celebrate life, to laugh at the dying winter, and to make connections with new people. I wish I could have invited every woman I know (guys, too, but you have to draw the line somewhere).

Next up is Passover and then Shavuot (Pentecost) and then my year of Jewish Feasts will come to a close. I'm already finding myself waxing nostalgic, though I've still got some months to go. I've shared this year so far with a lot of people (the social aspects of every feast have surprised me. God used the calendar to build community). If you've wanted to join in on one of the festivals and haven't had a chance, contact me about Passover (at the end of April) and Shavuot (at the beginning of June).