A reading plan for the book of Esther, part one

Have you thought about this…

Your home is the primary learning lab for your child’s faith growth.

That’s right. In your home.

Not what they get at church once a week.
Not what they get from Vacation Bible Camp once a year.
(Though those things certainly can help.)

At home.

A boy at the dinner tableBut, have no fear! Why not use the following “reading plan” to lead your family to deeply discuss our current Rotation story, which winds it’s way through several chapters in the Old Testament book of Esther.

Read (and talk about!) our story over several days. Try it at the family dinner table or wherever your family gathers together with a few spare moments.

This reading plan needs some map work. As a kid, I loved maps! Don’t be too quick to point out places on a map. Let kids work at finding them. This looking helps cement concepts in their brain! (Such as how far it was from Susa to Jerusalem.)

Middle East Map

Read in Esther Talk about or do…
1:1-2 (chapter one, verses one and two) Do some map sleuthing. Start with a map of the world. See if they can find Michigan! Name an African country for them to find. (How about Kenya! A bunch of folks from our church will be headed there soon.) Have them find Egypt and Israel. (Clicking on a country brings up a map of that country.) Now go to this map and note the outlines of the Persian Empire. Where was the home base of King Xerxes? (verse 2). Find Susa on the map above. Bonus points: Today what country was Susa in? (Check back with the world map).
1:1-8 King Xerxes (what a fun sounding name! It’s pronounced: Zurk-seez) gave some parties! How long was one of his galas? (verse 4) What’s the longest “party” you’ve ever attended? I’m putting the word party in quotes because perhaps it’s time for the adults to tell the kids about that days long event they’ve attended in the past. What about Art Fair in Ann Arbor – that counts as a party of sorts. Have you ever been to Art Fair more than one day in a row? It’s time to tell stories about special events!
1:9-22 This queen’s name is pronounced: VASH-tee. What did Vashti do that got her banished from the kingdom? What do you think of the kings advisor’s reasoning? Do you think Queen Vashti’s action was insulting to everyone? Discuss how roles in families have changed!
2:1-10 [Adults: Read this chapter ahead of time to plan to use substitutions for some words.] Here’s another character with a strange sounding name: Mordecai is pronounced: mor-di-KI. Why do you suppose Esther hadn’t told anyone about her family origin? Look back at the map above. The homeland of Esther and Mordecai’s Jewish family was where Israel is today. (Find Jerusalem on the map.) Do you know how Jewish people ended up in Susa? (Read about the exile.)
2:11-18 How do you suppose Esther felt about being removed from her home with no choice in the matter? How do you suppose she felt about a year’s worth of “beauty care?” About winning this beauty contest? Everyone seems captivated by Esther’s beauty, but beauty, all by itself, doesn’t cause people to like you! It also takes… what? (your character and your actions!) Do you see yourself as a “beautiful” person? (God does!)
2:19-23 [Adults: Be prepared to perhaps change the wording used in this passage.] What plot did Mordecai stop? Why do you suppose it is significant that this event was recorded in “The Book of the History of King Xerxes’ Reign?” Does anything ever happen that you wish could be written down so that you could refer to it later? Just for fun, try writing down the events of one day.
3:1-6 What behavior made Haman so angry? As second-in-command to King Xerxes, Haman held a rank that required everyone to bow down to him. Does the story tell us why Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to Haman? (Not really!) We know that because Mordecai was a Jew who only bowed before God, he would have refused to bow down to Haman. How does this sort of loyalty make you feel? Is there anyone (or anything) in your life that asks you bow down to it? Bonus question: Which of the Ten Commandments was Mordecai following?
3:7-15 What does it mean to “cast lots?” (basically, to roll dice!) How did Haman surreptitiously persuade King Xerxes to issue an edict condemning the Jews in the entire Persian Empire? Check the map of Xerxes’ empire. Compare that to the map above to discover what Jewish homeland would have been included in this order-of-death decree. (Jerusalem!)

Stay tuned. More to come!

Photo credits: Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
At the supper table by Eric Peacock, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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