My church is currently doing a sermon series on Esther. We have chosen to include the additions to Esther as part of the series, and they cover 7 sermons out of 16 sermons. During these 7 sermons, besides expounding on the message, we will also be talking about different perspectives of scripture like canonization, textual criticism etc.
I had expected certain resistance to these passages, being from a traditional church and all that. People generally reject something out of the unusual. But I am sticking to my beliefs because of 2 reasons.
1. We are doing Esther intensively. I would like to have a complete picture from all angles.
2. It is an once in a lifetime opportunity. We often assume our perspectives of what is scripture is the right one. But we have not really explored what is the common understanding. Speaking from the deutrocanonical passages opened this can of worms for us.
But this one particular feedback makes me rather unhappy:
"There are so much scripture within the canon that we are unfamiliar with. Why are we spending time on these passages outside the canon?"
1. Yes, there are many passages of scripture much neglected. And Esther is one of them! But the pastoral team has not evaded them. No, we resolve to tackle them even though we know they are unfamiliar grounds. And since we are tackling Esther, we have to do it thoroughly, because I doubt we are ever coming back. That's my style. If covering neglected scripture is your concern, then that's why we are doing Esther this time.
2. If you are so concerned about not understanding enough of all that is within the canon, then perhaps you would read up all the sermons online we have within the church website? I'm sure there are some that you missed out. No?
3. I think that ultimately the mentality is this: I don't really care about knowing all that is to know within the canon. But I do know that I don't particularly care for deuterocanonical texts. Therefore, when I do spend time to come to church, I want to know that it is time well spent on a canonical text.
4. But my response is this: You have your concerns. But the church also has its own concerns. Sometimes we match, but sometimes we accommodate one another. I sometimes cover the familiar because I know that is appealing to the masses. They get what they come for. Those times I compromise. But I also think that there should be times where you keep an open heart to listen to the church's agenda. While that may not be immediately beneficial, the church does it faithfully, believing in its rewards in the long run.
5. I've finished Judges, and now tackling Esther, and will struggle with Ezekiel next year because I believe that every forgotten passage has value. Why go over the ritual "God loves you" message when there is also something more in life? I want to broaden your perspective in the scenario one day when you need more than "God loves you". That is what I hope will come in handy one day.