I have heard a lot of preachers in my time. Whether Catholic homilies, Evangelical sermons, or Pentecostal “words,” they all have had merit. Some inspired, others edified, and some educated or instructed. All of these are at the heart of the homiletic art.
That said, one of the most remarkable (and memorable) messages was from a rabbi during the festival of Purim. For those unfamiliar with Purim, it is a festive celebration of the survival of Judaism in the time of the Persians. The evil “prime minister” Haman, had set his sights of the destruction of the Jews because of his hatred of one man: Mordecai. It was through the valiant efforts of the young Esther, that his designs were thwarted. The Book of Esther recounts this story, but also calls on Jews to celebrate and remember it.
There are many aspects of this festival that one might call “over indulgent.” Too much alcohol is consumed for many people’s taste (especially of those of us of more sober, Protestant stock). Noise as well can be excessive. In fact, when the story of Esther is read, there is a concerted effort to drown out Haman’s name whenever it is uttered. This seems fair enough as he set out to wipe the Jews from history, so Jews return the favour.
Another aspect of the festival is the wearing of costumes. It is here that I return to my main topic. On the occasion already referenced, the rabbi approached the rostrum dressed as a Fiddler on the Roof. Yes, the 20th Century Jewish cultural reference is clear, but it was the sermon that stood out. He said, “Being a rabbi is like being a fiddler on the roof. It is about balance. You are always balancing things. You balance people, their problems, and their relationships with G-d and with man.” He went on to explain, that rabbis [and ministers for that matter] sometimes slip a bit with all of the pressure to balance. What a rabbi needs to do is get his own balance first. He needs to be firm with his G-d and his creator. All the rest will follow.
How is your balance today?