The last of the latest series of ‘Food, Fellowship and Faith’ evenings was held on Wednesday 19th November 2014.
This was the first one to be held in the church rather than in the Annexe. Forty people enjoyed a supper and fellowship together before Rev. Hilary began her talk. Her talk on this occasion was entitled ‘Good Girls of the Bible’.
Hilary began with Esther from the Old Testament.
Esther, a Jewish orphan, came to the notice of King Ahasuerus after he had been advised to banish his former queen for disobedience in not obeying a summons to attend him. Esther was very beautiful and also very wise. She had hidden her Jewish identity as Jews were being persecuted and living outside Israel in fear of their lives.
Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, found out about a plot to assassinate the King and enlisted her help to inform him. There was strict protocol within the palace and Esther flouted the rules by going to the King without invitation. This was indeed dangerous and put her life at risk. However she was determined to try and save the Jewish people if at all possible and decided to give 2 banquets at which she intended to plead with the King for the lives of the Jewish people. Haman an official within the court had blamed Mordecai for the assassination plot and planned to hang him but Esther managed to trick him. Haman was hanged on the scaffold that he had built for Mordecai.
The King granted Esther her wish to save the Jewish people from persecution and death. The Jewish people celebrate the event today with the festival of Purim.
Esther risked her life to save the Jewish people.
The question posed was: ‘Esther’s story is one of potential self-sacrifice for the good of others. What is the lesson for today?’
The next ‘Good Girl’ was Hannah, also from the Old Testament.
Hannah was married to Elkanah. He also had another wife who had borne him children but Hannah remained childless. Hannah had to put up with jealousy, cruelty and torment from the other woman.
She went to the shrine regularly to pray for a child. On this occasion she decides to make a vow to God that if she has a son she will give up the child to God. She prays at the shrine and makes her vow silently as according to law her husband could rescind the vow within a day if he had heard it. Hannah was resolute and did not want the vow to be overturned.
Eli saw Hannah mouthing the vow and initially thought her drunk but when she explained to him about her vow he prays that God will grant her a son. Hannah is subsequently blessed with a son and then confesses to her husband about the vow she has made. An agreement was reached that Hannah would keep her son until he was 3 years old after which he would be taken to the shrine and offered to God. This was done and Hannah visited her son every year taking clothes with her.
She could have paid the temple to redeem her vow but did not and was determined to carry out her vow to God. Hannah never gave up hope that she would have a son even though it meant that she had to give him up.
The question posed was: ‘How would you feel about giving up the most precious thing in your life?’
The final ‘Good Girl’ was Priscilla from the New Testament.
This fascinating woman was not known to many people although she was a very strong and influential character from the early church. Priscilla and her husband Aquila met Paul in Corinth where the couple had fled from Rome after the Jews were expelled. They became friends with Paul, who stayed with them whilst preaching to the people of Corinth about Christianity.
Priscilla in particular was very strong minded and fervent in her love for God and Jesus. She seems to have been the dominant partner in her marriage as it is her that the Bible texts mention rather than her husband.
Paul, Priscilla and Aquila travelled to Syria after which Paul journeyed to Jerusalem leaving Priscilla and her husband to set up a church in their home in Ephesus. They became leaders of the Christian community there.
Having met Apollos, a scholar, Priscilla passed on her Christian knowledge and he then was able in turn to pass on these teachings in the public arena, something that Priscilla as a woman was unable to do.
In Rome, members of the early church listed were women showing that Paul recognised their role in Christianity.
The question posed here was: ‘What are the most interesting moments in Priscilla’s story? How important is her story for women today?’
These 3 women showed that each of them was determined to succeed and not to relinquish their faith no matter what it cost them. Everyone found the stories to be fascinating and Hilary mentioned that she would speak to us on another occasion about other women of the Bible and their influence in the early church.
There are no ‘Food, Fellowship, and Faith’ meetings in December but further sessions will be advertised in the New Year. Ann Massey
Food, Fellowship & Faith
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