The ladies' Bible study group I'm in has been going through Beth Moore's new study Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman. Awhile back when I was looking through my planner I noticed that Purim was March 10, and since our group meets on Tuesdays, I thought that was a fun coincidence. Linda took it a step further--her husband is the pastor of a church body that meets in the building belonging to a Messianic Jewish congregation. She checked into what they would be doing, knowing that they had a special service the evening of Purim, and said that we could go and visit!
We met at Sweet Tomatoes for dinner beforehand, where the ladies surprised me with a ginormous baby gift: a new swing for Baby J! Our original one made it through 4 kids and just had to go when we last moved. I also got a gorgeous hand-stamped baby card that is definitely a keeper!!
We arrived just in time for the service to begin, and I loved every moment of it. I love Jewish culture, and being with Jews who believe Jesus (Yeshua) is Messiah and also continue to celebrate their heritage is something that just gives me goosebumps! Having done studies recently involving the Patriarchs, the Tabernacle, and the Psalms of Ascent, it was awesome to be in their place of worship and see the Hebrew banners celebrating both Old and New Testament concepts. I also loved hearing the Shma in Hebrew--our kids memorized Deut. 6:4-9 recently, and that passage is especially meaningful to me as a mom.
From what I understand, it's traditional for kids to act out the story of Esther. This year the young people in the church put on a puppet show, complete with stage and paper-sack puppets that looked like the Fandango characters! It was darling! We all had noise-makers that we were to shake at the names Esther (or Hadassah) and Mordecai while cheering and also at hearing the name of Haman, but he got booed, of course! The kids did a great job, and I loved the humor they incorporated into the storyline.
Example: During the first banquet with Esther (YAY!), Xerxes, and Haman (BOOO!), the latter comments, "This is great! What is that ball floating in the soup?!" LOL!
Later on, the hangman hums a little tune while he's working: "This is the way we build the gallows, build the gallows, build the gallows, this is the way we build the gallows so late in the evening!"
Haman's (BOOOO!) suggestion for the man the king wishes to honor: "Let a man go before him shouting, 'The king thinks this man is tight! He ROCKS!'"
During the scene changes and general backstage shuffling, we were treated to lively and beautiful Jewish music by a very talented man playing what looked like an electric violin (is there such a thing?!). There's really no other way to describe it--this was a FUN performance!!
After the service some women ran a bake sale for a fundraiser, at which they were selling "Haman's Ears," a pastry that is traditional at Purim. The recipe for these is in our Bible study book, so we were familiar with them. I bought a dozen to bring home to share with the family--but of course Ted and I sampled one before bed. :-) They are good--not too sweet, but a nice compliment to coffee...too bad we don't ever make coffee, ha!
I am SO thankful that I was not in labor or in the hospital!! I would have really hated to have missed that experience. I will remember that for a long time, and I think it would be a great addition to our annual family traditions. I can just see my kids putting on a puppet show of their own...