God made us Latina (Hispanic) in a country that is different from us. But HE made us for this season. So we need training to fulfill HIS purpose for us! Goal to: (1) see us grow through new understanding and a new way of governance; (2) see us grow in understanding of ourselves as one organic body (interconnected); (3) and to see us deepen and grow spiritually, so we can grow and live in Christ as an integral limb in His household.
Prepare for the Journey
- Read Esther 1-10: The Message – Dios Habla Hoy
- Think about Esther and all the ways that she is like us.
- In what way is Esther’s story similar or different from yours?
- What things do we need to learn in order to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives in this country/reality?
- Is His purpose different for us here vs. there?
We Journey Together
Esther had to learn quite a bit in order to become Queen. After all she had been raised by her uncle after her parents death. She grew up in a time where her people were considered less than. She had to learn a lot of things. Each session will give us the opportunity to train and be trained. Each meal will be spent intentionally discussing aspects of the story. Esther had a lot to learn during “concubine” training, after all, to be Queen she had to learn how to please the King in every way…
Keynote Topic: Vasti When we talk about Vasti, we talk about the past: who we were before we met “the king”. Where we came from, in the sense of country of origin, ethnicity and our general worldly travels. But we also talk about the fact that in order for Esther (our new self) to become, Vasti (our old self) had to step aside and undergo a major change!
Something to Think About: Putting Esther aside for a minute. Let us instead think about Vasti. Vasti may have been a foreigner (immigrant or migrant), she may have been born and raised there-but her parents weren’t (like Chicana’s and Neyorican’s) or she may have been a slave girl who moved up in the ranks…But we know that she was Queen before Esther, so let’s look at her and think of our own past.
- Who have you been in the past? What hurts did you suffer and/or cause others? Who would you be today if you had made different decisions in life?
- In order for Esther to come into her own, something had to happen. What has to happen for you to step up?
During the process of learning who we are in Christ, we have to be willing to learn about our new role. Esther was taken into the king’s throne room after she underwent a time of education.
She was taken under the wing of a group of teachers (in her case eunuch) who were to instruct her on her new position. I envision our workshops for some, as a starting point, for others additional training in whom we are as women of faith. The topics are similar to what I imagine these beautiful women in the harem had to undergo.
These women came from different ethnicities, from varied cultures, different traditions, and different levels of literary knowledge. Our women are in the same boat. We need to learn what role, or potential role, the church should play in our lives (Manners & Protocol). We need to learn what roles we can play in the life of the church (Hospitality & Service). We need to learn what is acceptable, expected and attainable for us as beauty queens in the face of our faith (Beauty, Dress and Decorum), so many of us Latina women think that we have to stop being bella to be taken seriously in the church. And most importantly what role (if any) does sex play in the life of our faith (Sensuality & Sexuality).
Session 1: Manners & Protocol How do we fit into our denomination (United Church of Christ)? Ask yourself, what ______ can do for you and/or what you can expect from the ________. We need to learn about the UCC in order to find how we fit into the life of our Local Church, our Association, Conference, Region and Denomination.
Meal Discussion 1: Read Esther 1:12 (NLT) “But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger.”
- Why do you think Queen Vashti refused? Have you had moments in your “Christian” walk when you have had to say enough? How did you deal?
- Do you think it would be hard to “replace” Queen Vashti? Why? How about you, and the things you do for the Lord, how do you compare? Remember the mission and need of each church is different and the ability of each member is also different.
- The kingdom, as a whole, was and still is in need. What are you willing to do to be part of the wave of change that is coming?
Session 2: Hospitality & Service might have some overlap with Manners & Protocol, except this presentation is about how an individual can be of service. This might include information regarding social issues, the “agenda” that the UCC currently has and how we as Latina’s can get involved, including information about CHM’s involvement in core issues.
This would also follow the denomination into local church ministries. Maybe this breakout session could include a conversation into traditional gender roles, and what we as Latina’s already do that are ministries, maybe, without titles. How many of us cook Sunday brunches in our churches, or prepare the Communion tray within the church? Those are ways that we serve our community of faith.
This is all about what you can do and/or what you can be asked to do to serve.
Meal Discussion 2: Read Esther 4:4 (NLT) “When Queen Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was deeply distressed. She sent clothing to him to replace the burlap, but he refused it.”
- Why did she send clothes? Is this like us, when we send money to missions, but don’t do work for the mission? How can we be better servers in God’s home?
- Mordecai knew he needed actions and not clothes. What can you do when the missions need action? How can you really be of help?
- Mordecai and his people were in need. What did Esther do to prepare to meet that need? How about you? Have you been willing to do more than talk about change? What changes have you made to meet the needs of the house of God?
Session 3: Sensuality & Sexuality This is a tough one. Does our Christianity stop us from being lustful? Does it stop us from having “needs”? Some of us are single and looking and wonder about this. Where do we fit in? Others are married and are confused about what is acceptable, sexually, within the church. Then there are the teens who are learning by seeing us and we want to know what and how to answer their questions. In the Bible
Meal Discussion 3: Read Esther 8:3 (NLT) “Then Esther went again before the king, falling down at his feet and begging him with tears to stop the evil plot devised by Haman the Agagite against the Jews.”
- Esther’s people were in need, the same way that today, our people are in need. Esther was willing to risk death to meet her people’s need. Have you honestly thought about what you would be willing to risk?
- On that same note, remember that our God is awesome, he is able to create, restore, and forgive. All we have to do is be more like Esther and fall down at His feet. Are you willing and able to ask for the big things?
- Have you ever felt compelled to action, and taken that action? What was that experience like?
Session 4: Beauty, Dress & Decorum can be used as a way to talk about some of our concerns about styles and acceptability within the church. What one generation sees as beautiful and stylish another might find gaudy and offensive. As a denomination or as Latino’s we don’t necessarily agree on what beauty is, but we can be open to a dialogue about it. Remember, Esther and the other women in training spent one year in “prescribed beauty” training before they were allowed out into society, or rather, to meet the king. Esther 2: 12-14 talks about these women spending 6 months being treated with myrrh and another 6 months with perfumes and various cosmetics. Presentation
Something to Think About: Now, finally Esther goes before the king. She sees him, King Xerxes, after not having been invited into his presence for thirty (30) whole days. This is not the Esther of long ago who asked the king’s eunech, Hegai, for advice as to what would please the king. This is a new Esther who realized that HER TIME WAS NOW, this Esther asked that HER PEOPLE get together and fast for three days alongside her.
- How did Esther dress to meet the king? Don’t just think of the physical, think of her spiritual dressings as well.
- How are we changing our outside to reflect our inner selves? If we meet our king today (God) would He find us looking different than how he met us?
The Journey Continues
Much like God’s name is hidden within the Esther story, our purpose is also hidden (often times because we are afraid to see it). After our time together is complete and as we continue our walk of faith, we have determined that for the next ____ week/month/year we will be in prayer together, spending time continuing to learn and work on finding our purpose.
Δ Brenner, A., I am
Δ Couchman, J., Esther: Becoming a Woman God Can Use
Δ Deen, E., All the Women of the Bible
Δ Essex, B., More Bad Girls of the Bible
Δ Gibbs, P., Esther: The Role of a Lifetime
Δ Glahn, S., Espresso with Esther
Δ Higgs, L., Bad Girls of the Bible
Δ Lawless, C., Putting on the Armor (Equipped and Deployed for Spiritual Warfare)
Δ Moore, B., Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman
Δ Poinsett, B., Wonder Women of the Bible
Δ Stackhouse, R., For Such a Time as This (Stewardship in Challenging Times, UCC Website)
Δ Tenney, T., Finding Favor with the King
Δ Tull, P., Esther and Ruth