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Celebrating Purim : the Story of Esther… by Susie

RDR holiday roots banner

I’m especially excited to share today’s post with you. Why? Because this family devotion time requires nothing more from you than to curl up with your kids on your favorite sofa with a great story. Add in some cookies,  hot chocolate and tea and you’ve got yourself a great way to spend time in God’s word with the whole family.  I recommend this style of family devotional  for families with significant age spreads among the kids in particular.  Don’t let your big oaf of a teenager fool you.  He wants to lounge out with the family and eat cookies and have tea just as much as your preschooler does.  He’s just not going to be so obvious about it, and he might even pretend he’s not listening 😉

haman_hats

I’ve been enjoying exploring the church calendar over the past few years, and whereas I used to only pay attention to the standard Christmas and Easter holidays, I’ve since discovered what many of our more liturgical brothers and sisters have known for centuries.  There is a beauty in the rhythms of life, the seasons, and in revisiting certain themes in the Christian faith during the course of the year. For example, our family had started enjoying the season of Epiphany in January and focussing on Christ the Servant King.  Lent too has begun to have new meaning for me as I’ve spent time focussing on a season of examining my heart, more intentional confession, and in anticipation of Christ’s ultimate saving work on the cross.  Every year around this time our Jewish friends celebrate Purim.  This joyous festival is a reminder of when God used an unlikely Hebrew slave girl turned Queen to intercede on behalf of the entire Hebrew nation.  Yes, it is the story of Esther!  The exact date depends on the Hebrew calendar but for 2015 Purim falls on March 4th.

Reading the book of Esther from your favorite Bible is such a suspenseful read that I doubt you will have trouble keeping the attention of your kids.  Of course, you might prefer to select a faithful retelling from a children’s Bible if you have preschoolers or early elementary aged kids, but otherwise most kids will find it hard to quit before the story is over.   From one page to the next, and as every detail unfolds, we are drawn into this drama, riveted with anticipation wondering how the drama will turn out!

However, sometimes mixing things up a bit can be fun and last year my family enjoyed listening to the Bible account using an audio version. Our family are huge fans of the Focus on the Family radio production called Adventures in Odyssey.  WE LOVE THEM!  There are close to 20 years of radio broadcasts.  We buy the CDs and listen to the stories in the car.  My favorite by far are the Bible Eyewitness ones.  Click the image below for a link to buy your own copy of the series or to simply download the Esther story alone in MP3 version for $1.99 {Scroll down to product items 19 and 20, entitled Bernard and Esther.  Make sure you purchase parts 1 and 2!}

AIO esther

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also LOVE LOVE LOVE the Word of Promise Audio Bible.  This audio Bible is awesome. Let me simply quote for you the publisher’s description:

Hear the Bible come alive!  This multi-voiced, scripted dramatization of the New King James Version (NKJV) features a star-studded cast of actors, an original music score, and incredible feature film quality sound effects. This world-class production creates a dramatic audio theater experience that makes you feel like you’re really there with Jesus and His disciples. Listen in your car, on your MP3 player, or with your family or small group to gain a new perspective of the Bible.

We’ve had the New Testament for many years now and I was so excited to discover that they have now published the entire Bible including the Old Testament!  I bought this for my husband for Christmas this year but really its a gift for the entire family.  Put in the CD with the Bible reference of Esther, let your kids sit on the floor and play Legos or color in their coloring books while you enjoy hearing anew the amazing story of Esther.
word_of_promise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to take things a step further, your local library will likely have a selection of books set out already in anticipation of Purim.  A couple of years ago I  found this adorable book in our public library. We read it as a bed time story one evening around Purim.  It’s a great re-telling of the Esther story in an easy reader version and in keeping in with Jewish Purim traditions, the story reads like a play.  Sure enough, the next day I found my kids “play acting” out the story of Esther!

shushan

 

Now I promised you that the point of this post was to simply listen to the story of Esther. BUT….  you may find that the story is so riveting that your family is actually interested in discussing some of the exciting points of this Bible story!  Some themes you may choose to explore could be:

My place in God’s Big Picture : For Such as Time as This.  My heart is always stirred deeply whenever I read Mordecai’s exhilarating speech to Esther.  “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”   Esther 4:14.  Where has God planted you? What might your fresh new day hold? You may not be waking up to ideal circumstances, and you may not be in a place you would have chosen for yourself. But wherever you are today, whoever fills your life today, and whatever happens to you today, remember that it is God’s plan for you in His larger picture and bigger purposes. It is for SUCH A TIME AS THIS!

Community : The gift of Godly people in our lives.  Not only did Esther have the gift of  loving, wise Uncle Mordecai to advise and encourage her, but she  also had community that stood by her and prayed and fasted with her during her time of deep need.  As part of a faith community we need to practice life together, support and encourage each other, including seeking God through fasting and prayer together.

Worship : It can be costly. Mordecai would not bow down to Haman or anyone else.  He worshipped the One True God regardless of the danger it brought him.  If your kids are aware of ISIS and other groups hitting the news headlines recently, this could be an excellent way to deepen your discussion about the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.

Bravery and Sacrifice:Risking one’s life for others. In this story we see God gave Esther courage to act regardless of personal cost.  The call of God upon our life is a call to self-sacrifice and service to others. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  1 John 3:16

Coming back to the Esther story every year at Purim is a great way to explore an amazing story of God’s rescue of his people and a call to each one of us to join him in his kingdom work.   I’ll admit,  there are also some very adult themes in the story,  but that’s another reason why I love the idea of revisiting this story every year.  As my boys mature, we can take in more and more of the story and explore more and more of what God has to say to us through it.

Cookies! I almost forgot about the cookies!  You may notice that around this time of year, these jelly filled triangular cookies show up in the bakeries around town.  They are known as Haman’s Hat cookies ( or Hamastaschen)  Here is a link to a wonderful recipe!

They are delicious!  I’m not much of a baker and look how great they turned out!

haman_hats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Happy Purim dear friend.  Enjoy delving into the word of God with your kids, complete with cookies (store-bought or home-made) and may the Lord bless you as you do so!

For such a time as this,

Susie

 

Celebrating Purim : the Story of Esther… by Susie

RDR holiday roots banner

I’m especially excited to share today’s post with you. Why? Because this family devotion time requires nothing more from you than to curl up with your kids on your favorite sofa with a great story. Add in some cookies,  hot chocolate and tea and you’ve got yourself a great way to spend time in God’s word with the whole family.  I recommend this style of family devotional  for families with significant age spreads among the kids in particular.  Don’t let your big oaf of a teenager fool you.  He wants to lounge out with the family and eat cookies and have tea just as much as your preschooler does.  He’s just not going to be so obvious about it, and he might even pretend he’s not listening 😉

haman_hats

I’ve been enjoying exploring the church calendar over the past few years, and whereas I used to only pay attention to the standard Christmas and Easter holidays, I’ve since discovered what many of our more liturgical brothers and sisters have known for centuries.  There is a beauty in the rhythms of life, the seasons, and in revisiting certain themes in the Christian faith during the course of the year. For example, our family had started enjoying the season of Epiphany in January and focussing on Christ the Servant King.  Lent too has begun to have new meaning for me as I’ve spent time focussing on a season of examining my heart, more intentional confession, and in anticipation of Christ’s ultimate saving work on the cross.  Every year around this time our Jewish friends celebrate Purim.  This joyous festival is a reminder of when God used an unlikely Hebrew slave girl turned Queen to intercede on behalf of the entire Hebrew nation.  Yes, it is the story of Esther!  The exact date depends on the Hebrew calendar but for 2015 Purim falls on March 4th.

Reading the book of Esther from your favorite Bible is such a suspenseful read that I doubt you will have trouble keeping the attention of your kids.  Of course, you might prefer to select a faithful retelling from a children’s Bible if you have preschoolers or early elementary aged kids, but otherwise most kids will find it hard to quit before the story is over.   From one page to the next, and as every detail unfolds, we are drawn into this drama, riveted with anticipation wondering how the drama will turn out!

However, sometimes mixing things up a bit can be fun and last year my family enjoyed listening to the Bible account using an audio version. Our family are huge fans of the Focus on the Family radio production called Adventures in Odyssey.  WE LOVE THEM!  There are close to 20 years of radio broadcasts.  We buy the CDs and listen to the stories in the car.  My favorite by far are the Bible Eyewitness ones.  Click the image below for a link to buy your own copy of the series or to simply download the Esther story alone in MP3 version for $1.99 {Scroll down to product items 19 and 20, entitled Bernard and Esther.  Make sure you purchase parts 1 and 2!}

AIO esther

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also LOVE LOVE LOVE the Word of Promise Audio Bible.  This audio Bible is awesome. Let me simply quote for you the publisher’s description:

Hear the Bible come alive!  This multi-voiced, scripted dramatization of the New King James Version (NKJV) features a star-studded cast of actors, an original music score, and incredible feature film quality sound effects. This world-class production creates a dramatic audio theater experience that makes you feel like you’re really there with Jesus and His disciples. Listen in your car, on your MP3 player, or with your family or small group to gain a new perspective of the Bible.

We’ve had the New Testament for many years now and I was so excited to discover that they have now published the entire Bible including the Old Testament!  I bought this for my husband for Christmas this year but really its a gift for the entire family.  Put in the CD with the Bible reference of Esther, let your kids sit on the floor and play Legos or color in their coloring books while you enjoy hearing anew the amazing story of Esther.
word_of_promise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to take things a step further, your local library will likely have a selection of books set out already in anticipation of Purim.  A couple of years ago I  found this adorable book in our public library. We read it as a bed time story one evening around Purim.  It’s a great re-telling of the Esther story in an easy reader version and in keeping in with Jewish Purim traditions, the story reads like a play.  Sure enough, the next day I found my kids “play acting” out the story of Esther!

shushan

 

Now I promised you that the point of this post was to simply listen to the story of Esther. BUT….  you may find that the story is so riveting that your family is actually interested in discussing some of the exciting points of this Bible story!  Some themes you may choose to explore could be:

My place in God’s Big Picture : For Such as Time as This.  My heart is always stirred deeply whenever I read Mordecai’s exhilarating speech to Esther.  “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”   Esther 4:14.  Where has God planted you? What might your fresh new day hold? You may not be waking up to ideal circumstances, and you may not be in a place you would have chosen for yourself. But wherever you are today, whoever fills your life today, and whatever happens to you today, remember that it is God’s plan for you in His larger picture and bigger purposes. It is for SUCH A TIME AS THIS!

Community : The gift of Godly people in our lives.  Not only did Esther have the gift of  loving, wise Uncle Mordecai to advise and encourage her, but she  also had community that stood by her and prayed and fasted with her during her time of deep need.  As part of a faith community we need to practice life together, support and encourage each other, including seeking God through fasting and prayer together.

Worship : It can be costly. Mordecai would not bow down to Haman or anyone else.  He worshipped the One True God regardless of the danger it brought him.  If your kids are aware of ISIS and other groups hitting the news headlines recently, this could be an excellent way to deepen your discussion about the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.

Bravery and Sacrifice:Risking one’s life for others. In this story we see God gave Esther courage to act regardless of personal cost.  The call of God upon our life is a call to self-sacrifice and service to others. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  1 John 3:16

Coming back to the Esther story every year at Purim is a great way to explore an amazing story of God’s rescue of his people and a call to each one of us to join him in his kingdom work.   I’ll admit,  there are also some very adult themes in the story,  but that’s another reason why I love the idea of revisiting this story every year.  As my boys mature, we can take in more and more of the story and explore more and more of what God has to say to us through it.

Cookies! I almost forgot about the cookies!  You may notice that around this time of year, these jelly filled triangular cookies show up in the bakeries around town.  They are known as Haman’s Hat cookies ( or Hamastaschen)  Here is a link to a wonderful recipe!

They are delicious!  I’m not much of a baker and look how great they turned out!

haman_hats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Happy Purim dear friend.  Enjoy delving into the word of God with your kids, complete with cookies (store-bought or home-made) and may the Lord bless you as you do so!

For such a time as this,

Susie

 

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