"[Mordecai] was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter." - Esther 2:7
Mordecai and Esther were Jews living in Persia under King Ahasuerus around 483 bc. Esther's parents died, and Mordecai, Esther's cousin, raised her and looked after her as his own daughter. Esther ended up becoming the queen of Persia, but this likely never would have happened without Mordecai's care and attention toward her as she was growing up. When Esther was orphaned, there was no Persian government program to help her. Rather it was close family members, the tight-knit local community, that looked after her.
This story shows the importance and effectiveness of extended family looking after one another. In the West, we less and less look to family members to help in times of crisis. Instead we look for government help. But a better way is for families, churches, and communities to help one another at a local, neighbourhood level. In the long run, this is more effective than depending on a faraway capital to come and save the day. Centralised government programs are far less effective than parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, the "clan," the neighbour across the street, and our brothers and sister at church, in helping us with our day to day needs, especially in crisis. Esther would not have succeeded in a government orphanage.
Father, teach us how to be more connected. Help us to care for the people around us--our neighbours, our extended family members, our church family. May we be willing to give our time and effort to help in big ways, just as Mordecai did. May we think more in terms of community and look out for the needs of one another locally. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman