Subject: Daily Prayers and Scriptures: Sunday, April 19

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This Eastertide, we are posting daily Scripture readings for your spiritual reflection and encouragement: 1. the selected Gospel texts originate from the Book of Common Worship: Daily Prayer (Louisville, KY:Westminster/John Knox, 1993); 2. the Home Daily Bible Readings for Monday through Saturday are selected in support of the Sunday lesson in the Uniform Lessons Series, ©Spring 2020.

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Second Sunday of Eastertide
John 14:1-7, NRSV
Jesus the Way to the Father

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Esther 3:5-6 and 7:1-10, NRSV
Mordecai Refuses to Bow to Haman

3:5 When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or do obeisance to him, Haman was infuriated. 6 But he thought it beneath him to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

Esther’s Plea and Haman’s Punishment

7 1 So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2 On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. 4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” 5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” 6 Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. 7 The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. 8 When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

How Do We Discern?

By Rev. Dr. Tammy Wiens, Director of Christian Education and Faith Formation, National Council of Churches

The book of Esther gives us a snapshot of life in Persia under King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I). Haman, the king’s chief advisor, devises a plot for the annihilation of Jews living within the bounds of his empire because of his anger against Mordecai who has refused to bow down to him. In ordinary circumstances it seems an odd story for the Uniform Lessons to include in the first week of Eastertide, but is there something in Esther’s story that can spark our religious imagination in a time of global pandemic?

More often than not, the men and women of Scripture will demonstrate their love and loyalty to God in their refusal to bow down or do obeisance to earthly authorities who oppose God’s justice and righteousness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments have issued edicts closing down all public gatherings, from restaurants and shopping malls to sports venues and places of worship. Some faith leaders have refused to follow the government orders and unapologetically spoken out in favor of regular church gatherings. The majority of our spiritual leaders, however, have sided with health experts and government officials and have locked the church’s doors — even on Easter Sunday — in order to protect the public good.

How do people of faith best discern when to side with the government and when to take a stand against the principalities and powers of this world?


God of life, we give thanks that you are with us in our grief and in our laughter. By your Spirit, may we come close to you, especially now, as love necessitates that we keep our distance from one another. Give us strength to weather the storms of social distancing. Give us courage to advocate for the most vulnerable among us. Give us wisdom to set a course for safely re-opening our places of worship when the time is right. We commit ourselves to your care and ask these things in Christ’s name through whom we pray, Amen.

Also: hear a message from our friend and brother in Christ, Pastor Kenneth Q. James, who recorded this message on the CUS lesson for Sunday, March 22, just days before his own transition to Glory. How blessed we are to hear again his powerful witness. He proclaims confidence in God’s plans for the future not knowing his own time is soon upon him.

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