Due to concerns of icy roads, the Purim service scheduled for tomorrow night will be postponed until next Friday at 6:30 p.m. (While we considered having the Purim celebration this Saturday, too many of our people were unavailable.)
This Purim service will be a little different from one’s we have had in the past. While we will read from the Megillah (scroll) of Esther, and use groggers to blot out the name of an enemy of the Jewish people, there will be less music than usual, and less teaching.
Instead, I believe it is critical that we spend that time in prayer as a congregation for Israel and the Jewish people. As in the days of Esther, Israel’s existence is threatened by Persia (modern day Iran). Like Nazi Germany, before World War II, Islamic militant forces have declared its intentions to wipe Israel off the face of this earth, and intend to do so. Anti-Semitism is growing throughout the world, especially in Europe. Israel faces a crucial election only 4 days after our service. These are only some of the reasons why congregational prayer is needed for Israel at this crucial time. As Mordecai told Esther,
“Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14
Esther’s response was critical—something we should never forget among all the themes of Purim:
“Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, ‘Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.’ So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.” Esther 4:15-17
Esther called for ALL the Jews to assemble, and fast for her. It is implied that the Jewish people prayed as a large group when the assembled and fasted. The need for us to pray together at this time is also great. I am reminded of the Lord’s statement in Isaiah 56:7:
“For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” May this always be said of Hope in Messiah Congregation.