Esther 10:1 King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea. 2 All the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was powerful among the Jews and popular with his many kindred, for he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his descendants.
This is the final chapter of the book of Esther and what an amazing reversal has taken place. At the beginning of our story Haman was in power and attempted to use that power for evil against Mordecai and the rest of the Jewish people who refused to bow down to him. By the end Haman and his descendants are dead with Mordecai assuming the role of second-in-command to the king. The young woman Esther started as a young virgin girl who became a powerful queen. Finally we’re told that Mordecai and King Ahasuerus used their power for the good of all the people, Jewish and otherwise.
Interestingly, though the book is named for Esther – and rightly so, she is not mentioned in this concluding paragraph. Why not name the book “Mordecai” then? I think we’re seeing the evidence of paternalistic thinking as it relates to leadership in the ancient Near East. Frankly there is still a good bit of this way of thinking today. Woman can have many roles in society as a whole, including the church, but are not often included on the list of the highest ranking leaders.
This is one reason I’m glad to be part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Don’t get me wrong. There are a whole host of issues with which I disagree with the ELCA, but women in leadership isn’t one of them. In fact, our most senior bishop is Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
Lord thank you for the way you care for your people. And thank you for the many wonderfully gifted women who are born to lead. Give us grace to embrace them fully into every aspect of life, for we are all poorer for it when we fail to do so. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.