Summary: Father’s Day sermon for step-dads.
"Mordecai the Step-father"
Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
Today we’d call him a step-dad. Mordecai took in a younger cousin to raise as his own child when her parents died. I can’t think of too many "fellers" like this in the Bible. Not much is said about the role of stepfather in the Bible. Moses was given some laws which regulated their role and behavior in the Old Testament. But not many examples are given. The most notable role is that of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus.
Let me run a few trivia questions past you. Who was Mordecai’s wife? How many children did they have? What qualified him to take on the role of fathering? It is interesting to me that the Bible is absolutely silent on his family life other than his connection with Esther. Of course the book centers around her and him and how they conspired to save the Jews in Babylon. But with so much information I expected to find something about his family. We have his dad’s name and his uncle’s name. We are given the name of Haman’s wife and that he had a lot of children. But no such information exists regarding Mordecai, the hero of the story.
But we are given some clues about the kind of relationship he and Esther shared. And those clues can help determine the role of today’s step-parent. Obviously, these observations are speculative in this case, but I think they are reasonable enough to offer them tonight.
As His Own Daughter
Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. (2:7)
He accepted her into his family as if she had been born into it. Nothing here suggests she was ever treated like a step-child. That’s key to this role wherever possible. Parents who treat their step-children as their children and children who accept step parents as their parents have healthier and more rewarding relationships.
One thing I have noticed causing problems in today’s homes is the division of families. By this I am referring to blended families, the merging of two families through marriage. One spouse has their children, the other spouse has their children, then they have children together. So they think of the children in terms of his children, her children, and their children instead of thinking of all of them as "our children." Yet what does Jesus say about a house divided?
I counsel folks in this situation, take the other person’s children as your own. Treat them like you’d want yours treated. Admittedly, this is increasingly more difficult the older the children are when the couple is wed. But as far as possible I believe it to be a sound practice. You’re not going to confuse the kids. They just might grow up thinking everyone loves them. They could reach the conclusion that the Lord brought good out of a tough set of circumstances.
Mordecai treated Esther like his own daughter. Good move.
He Stayed In Touch
Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her. (2:11)
Every good relationship requires communication. That of parent/child is no different. That of step-parent/step-child needs the same nurturing attention of any other caring relationship.
This was the oddest of circumstances. Few of us will ever have to contend with a situation like the one facing Mordecai and Esther. She was a virgin concubine in the harem of an ancient monarch. They were trying to keep the family identity secret. So the situation was most strained, to say the least. Every day he walked past the harem courtyard, hoping to catch sight of her. She would always try to be visible. Both tried to remain inconspicuous. They passed notes, or sent messages through mutual acquaintances.
How hard that must have been. But Mordecai kept in touch. A few years ago we would have called on the phone. Today, we’d e-mail. The wonderful thing is that we won’t be faced with such a difficult scenario. So maintaining contact should be much easier for us. Let’s make an honest attempt to keep in touch.