While some Jews did return to Jerusalem during the Persian Empire, many did not. They assimilated into life in the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. They continued to spread out (the literal meaning of diaspora), and understood that God was with them beyond anyone one land, and that they did not need one Temple to be in a relationship with God. Esther is one of the timeless stories of the Jews wrestling with the power of empire, yet trying to live within it as their own unique religious ethnicity.
The idea of diaspora has resonated with the ethnic Mennonite story, as Mennonites have moved (often from persecution) many times of our 500 year history. Today, do we still feel like a unique religious ethnicity? What does it mean to be Christian today, as we reflect on our religious history from the Jewish perspective? This was an ongoing challenge for the disciples after Jesus, and one that is shown through the book of Acts (which the JYF read through last year) and all of Paul's letters in the New Testament.
Today, are we a unique part of the empire - making it better?
Reflect - Reflect on the stories of Diaspora from your own Bible (5th Graders), Spark Story Bible (4th Graders), Shine :
Esther 2:5-18, 3:1-6, 8:1-17 (Spark 152, Shine 122)
Daniel 3:10-30 (Spark 180, Shine 148)
Daniel 6:1-28 (Spark 184, Shine 150)
You can also do this activity at home during the week from Building Faith, an Anabaptist resource. This activity focuses on "Praying."
Pray - Consider reciting a version (or part) of Mary's Prayer from Luke 1:46-55. One is listed below (if you have a Spark Story Bible, can you find another?).
Serve - Dec. 25 is the last week to collect diapers and wipes for the Rocky Mountain Diaper Depot. Read more about RMDD here.
Explore - Watch another video below from our Jewish friends about the Psalms and about Esther (part of the Diaspora in Persia).
Mary's Song (Luke 1:46-55)
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
Jan.-March Young Voices for Peace
March 5 1:30pm YVP Concert at FMC
March 10-12 Annual Winter Retreat at RMMC - contact Rachel B. for details. Registration concludes Feb. 26
May 21 Peace School Finale and potluck picnic