A New Reality of Belonging

A New Reality of Belonging

When we meet Mordecai in Esther 2, the first thing we learn about him is his family history. “Now there was a Jew in the citadel of Susa whose name was Mordecai son of Jair son of Shimei son of Kish, a Benjaminite. Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with King Jeconiah of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried away.” (Esther 2:5-6) The story of Mordecai and his family is one of displacement. Esther then experiences a similar kind of displacement. When Ahasuerus decrees a contest to see who will become his next wife and queen, “Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in the custody of [the king’s servant eunuch] Hegai, who had charge of the women.” (Esther 2:8) Mordecai’s family “was carried away” and Esther “was taken.” These are characters robbed of their place in the world, robbed of their sense of belonging, robbed of their power of self-determination. Both of our beloved characters are wrestling with the question of belonging. Mordecai’s family loses their belonging in Israel, but also doesn’t really find it here in Persia. Mordecai’s lineage is one of displacement, of a lack of belonging. And just as Mordecai’s family is “taken” from Judah, Esther is taken into the palace, into a place she’s never belonged to, a place she never asked to be.

This is a story about salvation coming through people who are lesser than, people who grieve bitterly, people who don’t belong, people who don’t take but get taken, people who live in the consequences of their ancestors’ failures. These people are the instruments of peace and salvation in the story of Esther. This whole story doesn’t work unless Mordecai lovingly adopts Esther as his own daughter (Esther 2:7) and thereby chooses to create a new reality of belonging that interrupts the old reality of death and defeat and displacement. Without Mordecai’s loving willingness to reach his hands into Esther’s broken life, there is no story of Esther to tell in the first place.

God brings about his acts of rescue and redemption through people who are made by the world to question their belonging. God delivers his justice to the world through the people who have less influence, less power of self-determination. God delivers his justice to the world not through a definitive act of strength, but through families and communities who will create a reality of belonging for each other.

We need to experience this story from both Esther’s and Mordecai’s point of view. Like Esther, we need to hear the good news that we belong. We belong with God. We belong with those who love us. We especially belong with those who didn’t have to love us and loved us unconditionally anyway. We need to hear the good news that nothing can threaten that belonging. And like Mordecai, we need to create this belonging for one another, especially for those among us who have lost belonging somewhere else along the way. That’s the kind of story in which we live.

In God, there is embrace. In God, there is endless hospitality, especially for those who have not found it elsewhere. Let us be drawn into the Father’s loving, compassionate, unconditional embrace. And let us share that embrace with one another.


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