... That they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor. Esther 9: 22b NRSV
The Book of Esther tells the origins of the Feast of Purim. This is the feast that reminds the Jews of their victory over their enemies and when their mourning had been turned into rejoicing. They are not to forget to celebrate and remember.
The celebration includes feasting, sending food to each other and giving gifts to the poor. This really sounds like the Christian celebration of Christmas! Traditionally, we feast, give gifts to each other and gifts to the poor.
It is easy to see why they would want to celebrate with food and gifts, but why the part about giving to the poor?
The poor have really not been mentioned in the Book of Esther. There is no tale of Esther or Mordecai giving to the less fortunate. We don't see the King doing much for the poor unless we count the beginning of the story in which he does hold a seven day banquet for all the people of the city of Susa. So, again, why include the poor?
Perhaps it has something to do with God. (!) Although God is never mentioned by name at any time in the Book of Esther, God is certainly present. And God is concerned with the less-fortunate. In giving thanks and remembering that the Jews were saved, is it not right to give to those who are down-trodden and hungry?
God, we celebrate at Christmas and other times with feasts and gifts. Help us to remember the poor at these times as well. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims