Esther 7.1-6, 7.9-10; 9.20-22; Psalm 124; James 5.12-20; Mark 9.38-50
The Gospel has people who are “out” performing the same miraculous work that others, who are “in”, are doing. In John the leaders say that they must be stopped. In Jesus’ case, he teaches that whoever is not against him is for him.
In the Esther reading, we read of God’s people being saved from evil (Haman) through some surprising opportunities that are used by some faithful people (Esther and Mordecai).
Psalm 124 supports this reading, in its celebration of God’s help for God’s people.
In James, all of God’s people, especially the elders, are called on to pray and to live righteous lives, while taking the opportunities that arise to help one another stay true.
Through the Lectionary readings this week, then, we find the call to embrace the unexpected and surprising work of God.
Although this is not specifically drawn out in the Esther reading, this passage would need to be put in context, and in doing so, the serendipitous nature of Esther and Mordecai’s rescue of their people becomes clear.
It’s easy for us to become so caught up in controlling ministry that we miss God’s surprising work. It’s so easy to get so caught up in the purity of our religion that we miss the work of God’s Spirit in those with whom we disagree. But, if we are seriously committed to God’s Reign – and not our own little dominions – we will learn to celebrate the surprising, unexpected and serendipitous work of God wherever, and through whomever, we may find it.
May our hearts be opened to the unexpected grace, the surprising opportunity and the serendipitous move of God’s Spirit as we worship this week.