Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, that they should celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote to them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
Anniversaries are often celebrations – markers in our lives when we look back and rejoice. But marking the passing of time is often a bittersweet experience. The Jews still celebrate the feast that commemorates God’s powerful intervention to rescue his people in the days of Esther, but the people were still in exile, still an ethnic minority at risk from the prejudices and distrust of their neighbours. Jerusalem was hundreds of miles away. It could all happen again. Yet they rejoiced – with gifts to each other and gifts to the poor.
All through the Old Testament the people of God are called to remember. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. Remember what the Lord did for you when you celebrate Passover. There is the same call to remember in the New Testament. ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’ Jesus said to his disciples at the last supper. Remember what the Lord has done for you. Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost are all festivals of remembrance and thanksgiving. We are invited to remember, to celebrate anniversaries, with feasting and presents.
Psalm 63:6-7 says,
‘On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.’
Even in dark times – particularly in dark times – we need to remember and rejoice in all that God has done for us and to look forward with a sure and certain hope that the future is in his hands – as the past has been.