SERMON TITLE: “Starting the New Year Well: Emotionally”
SERMON TEXT: Esther 4:1-4, 10-17
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: January 15, 2017, at First UMC
The Adult Sunday School class is studying the Old Testament Minor Prophets. My husband is the one teaching the class, so he’s the guy who has to prepare the most. But, just so I could be a little prepared as a student, I opened up a commentary this past week and read a bit from the introduction to Hosea. There in the first paragraph, the Bible scholar noted that the book of Hosea has been referred to as “a passion play” because the “word passion captures the incendiary relations . . . feverish lust . . . profound suffering . . . torment . . . [and] violent anger” that are expressed by the characters of husband and wife in the writing of Hosea.1 Wow! That does sound passionate, doesn’t it? Of course, the idea of “a passion play” conjures up more than the Minor Prophet Hosea. It also brings to our minds the story of Jesus and all the anguishing experiences of fiercely-pledged loyalty, agonized and exhausted prayer, conflicted betrayal, tormented denial, public rejection, torturous suffering, and horrific grief involved in Jesus’ crucifixion.
For sure, the stories and songs of the Bible are full of drama and passionate emotions—some very dark and some very uplifting. That’s because the Bible is a reflection of our human life. Like it or not, we are emotional beings. Maybe not in any given day or week or month, but over a period of years most of us can attest to having felt the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Most of us will have experienced the euphoria of love and the devastation of loss. Most of us will have known the strength of confidence and the weakness of uncertainty. We will have felt confusion and joy, frustration and peace, disturbance and hope. Over an expanse of time, we will have exulted in the infinite possibilities of new life and grieved over the closed-door finality of death. To a certain extent, emotions are just the feelings that they are. They’re not good or bad, right or wrong. But to the extent that emotions affect our health, behavior, and success in life, we might want to consider how best to handle and manage our emotions.
Since January first, we’ve been talking about different ways of starting the New Year well. So far, we’ve talked about starting the New Year well mentally and physically. In the weeks beyond today, we’re going to talk about starting the New Year well spiritually, creatively, societally, relationally, and financially. This morning I want us to look at the story of Mordecai found in Esther chapter 4. Let’s see what we might learn about starting the New Year well emotionally.