Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Banquet of Esther

John and I were married in the middle of a northeastern winter. Our families were from different states and travel was difficult especially for his older relatives. The solution was two receptions.

There was the Cavanaugh reception complete with a tipsy grandmother dancing on a table. There was the LaMantia reception with secret recipes handed down from mother to daughter and lots of advice about how to “handle” ones husband. I never learned the secret of what goes into the cannoli and that husband handling thing didn’t work out so well either.

My favorite banquet was a private feast. Husband and wife stuff. It took place after all the guests were gone and all our good-byes were said. I hugged my parents for the last time as just their daughter and stepped into married life with a complete stranger I had known for three years.

I am the plan ahead type and I had packed a honeymoon picnic to take to the hotel. I knew it would be too late for room service and we hardly got to eat at the reception for greetings and photos. I came prepared. It would not be a lie if I said those were the most delicious ham sandwiches we have ever eaten. It would however, be a work of fiction if I said eating those sandwiches was the first thing we did as man and wife. Suffice it to say that when we said grace over our boudoir banquet we were truly thankful.

How wonderful it felt to be married to the love of my life. How intensely we felt the approval of Heaven. How celebratory an event. How joyful! I looked into John’s face and his smile put a crown on my head. Across from me was a Husband-Priest-Soul Mate eating a ham sandwich and toasting our love with a Grape Crush!

How funny that must sound and I admit I am smiling at the remembrance of it. I have not had a Grape Crush since. I am probably thinking of it now because I have unmarried friends who are prayerfully (and maybe a little impatiently) in preparation for God to bring them husbands.

I am drawn to the story of Esther with so many possible lessons. One stands out. Leaps off the page with possibilities and hopefulness.

8 When the king's order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king's palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king's palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem…

12 Before a girl's turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king's palace…

15 When the turn came for Esther to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther's banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality. Esther 2

Hegai seems a sort of Holy Spirit. Favoring the good hearted woman and teaching her what pleased the King. Teaching her patience as she is beautified. Sharing with her what would be attractive to her husband, what would make him choose her.

This process went on for a solid year. One scented bath followed another as Hadassah truly became Esther, a Star. When she looked like a Queen and smelled like a Queen and felt like a Queen she became one. What followed was what the scripture calls, “The Banquet of Esther.” The banquet where she is celebrated as the one who has won the heart of the King.

There is an inscription on a painting by da Vinci, “Virtue shapes beauty.” My lovely friends are in that wonderful anticipatory time where the Spirit is bathing, perfuming, refining and teaching them what will be attractive and helpful to the one He will bring.

It is not unlike the Holy Spirit's larger role in all of our lives as we look toward the return of our King and the marriage supper of the Lamb. I want to be what Christ finds attractive, what moves His heart, a virtuous beauty. Like Esther, I want to impact the Kingdom for His glory.

Tonight I am praying and setting the table in faith for an Esther Banquet for each one of you, My Dear Friends, who have such a hope. In the mean time enjoy the spices and the perfume as you wait for answered prayer. May there be a God-chosen someone searching for you even at this moment.

(You might recognize him by the Grape Crush in his hand.)

William Hallmark's The Bride of Christ available @ Cafepress
I ordered cards with this picture. They were lovely.


  1. Have you ever read Gentle Passages? There is a story in there about china plates that your journal brought to my mind. You might look for that little book... I really enjoyed reading The Banquet of Esther.

  2. Thank you for your suggestion. I am unfamiliar with the book you mentioned but will look for it. Blessings. Kat