Esther: the Courageous Queen
This is the page for Day One. On this page you can find background for Esther as well as an explanation of the key beatitude. In addition, you can find the story/service, art, science, and games guides with demonstration videos as well as the music guide and whodunnit episodes. Those guides are also available on the home page along with the overview.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy."
Click or tap on these icons to take you to the right guide. You can also find the supply list here:
A note to Families: activities during VBS at church may only take about 20 minutes but that's made possible by lots of prep work. Preparing for and completing an art, science, or service project might take all day. That's okay! You have all summer to explore the mystery museum.
Esther: The Courageous Queen
Learning Objectives for the Kids:
Because Esther and Mordecai were from a different country and had a different faith, they were treated differently and sometimes that treatment was mean or dangerous.
Esther and Mordecai never gave up faith that God was with them.
Esther could have hidden her faith and been safer but instead she stood up for what she believed and for her family.
Jesus has taught us to create a world where people who are different are loved and appreciated.
Faith in Jesus means that we no longer have to fight one another, we can always find a way to live together. In this way we are all blessed more than can be measured!
Background on Esther: Esther 1 - Esther 10
We can learn a lot about something from what it leaves behind. We learn about dinosaurs from the bones they left behind. We learn about ancient civilizations from the ruins they left behind. We learn about Esther from the story she left behind, the story passed down by her people—the Jews living in exile from their homeland.
These are the people who Esther saved. During the 400s BCE Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) ruled over the vast Persian empire. At the end of a series of extravagant feasts, held in order to display the king’s great wealth, the original queen, Vashti, refused to allow herself to also be displayed as property. In order to prevent other women from following in Vashti’s rebellious example, Ahasuerus and his advisors had her removed from her seat of power. Ahasuerus was in need of a new queen and had the most beautiful women of the land brought before him.
At that time Esther lived with her older cousin Mordecai in Persia because she had been orphaned. Both were Jewish exiles of the tribe of Benjamin. Ahasuerus chose Esther as his new queen, although she kept her Jewish heritage a secret. Around that time, Mordecai anonymously prevented the king from being assassinated.
Soon after Ahasuerus appointed a man named Haman as his chief advisor. All who met Haman were supposed to bow before him but when Mordecai met him, he refused. Haman used this incident to convince the king of the rebelliousness of the Jewish people and a decree was made that the Jews in Persia were to be destroyed. Esther had a choice, she could attempt to hide her heritage completely or she could stand up for her people and her cousin. Even the queen could be killed for going before the king without being summoned, but Esther did so anyway.
She dined with Ahasuerus and Haman and revealed that she was a Jew. The night before Ahasuerus had also learned what Mordecai had done to save his life. Ahasuerus was overcome by Esther’s courage and by Mordecai’s dedication and released a new decree that the Jewish people in Persia had the full support of not only the queen but also the king. Haman was executed and replaced by Mordecai.
Esther was a hero for saving her people. She found courage in serving her true king, not Ahasuerus but God. While Ahasuerus was arrogant and easily manipulated, God was loving and steadfast.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy" (Matthew 5:7 NRSV)
Right from the start, we have to understand how radical Jesus’ beatitudes really are. Esther was not merciful. She gives to Haman the same punishment that Haman had intended for Mordecai and all of the Jewish people. She extends that punishment to Haman’s family and all those who conspired against the Jewish people throughout the Persian Empire. So how does Esther’s story exemplify Jesus’ beatitude about mercy? The old justice of an eye for an eye has been thrown out. The Jewish people had been treated ruthlessly for generations on end, so Esther grasped the power she could find to ruthlessly protect them. This is how God’s justice is portrayed throughout the Old Testament. Yet, Jesus’ world-changing teachings and incredible love create the possibility for a new way. He envisions a new kingdom where Esther’s bold courage in the face of threat and uncertainty—her love—can be used to build up others rather than to fight others. Queen Esther protected the vulnerable within a dangerous kingdom. King Jesus creates a new kingdom where the vulnerable are already safe.
Special Prayers: As you learn about Esther, you’re invited to choose a prayer to repeat throughout the day. The goal is to memorize the simple prayer so that it is there for you and your kids whenever you might need it in life, just like God. You can choose between the more challenging prayer poem and the rhyming kid’s poem:
Esther Kid’s Prayer:
Help us to help others to see,
We are all children of the Most High King.
I‘m who you made me to be,
I’ll share this truth till we’re all soarin’.
Esther Prayer Poem:
Give us the courage to turn ill will to your will.
When we stand with you God, mercy multiplies.
Where we dwell with you God, hurt renews to hope.
Mystery Museum Story and Service
Click or tap the icon for a day one story guide that you can view online or print. The guide includes a daily guiding question, learning objectives, supplies list, an activity introducing kids to the Bible story, questions to go with the Bible character video, instructions for a service learning project to reinforce the story, as well as a final lesson reflection.
This video features Queen Esther Holding Evidence of Haman’s Guilt, 2006, by Lilian Broca.
Go deeper into the story by serving.
Right now, an important aspect of accessibility is making sure people have the masks they will need to go places like church or that kids will need for school in the fall. Today you can go deeper into service learning with Esther by making masks.
Lutheran World Relief has a goal of 150,000 homemade masks. They are already well on their way but need your help. On their website you can pledge to make masks and find a sewing pattern to follow.
Check online for sewn mask collection drives in your area. If you live in the Dayton region, sewn masks are being collected in Dayton at 660 S. Main St. Learn more about dropping off masks at the Dayton Sewing Collaborative's Facebook page.
Mystery Museum Art
Click or tap the icon for a day one pdf of the art guide that you can view online or print. The guide will lead you through how to create paper plate crowns and includes a daily learning objective, a supplies list, art project instructions with pictures, and questions to ask the kids while you're creating together.
Click or tap the video icon for a video demonstration of Queen Crowns.
Mystery Museum Science
Digging up the past
Click or tap the icon for a day one pdf of the science guide that you can view online or print. The guide will lead you through how to create dinosaur fossils and includes a daily guiding question, learning objectives, a supplies list, at least two science experiments for each day including instructions, and questions to ask the kids while you're exploring together.
Click or tap the video icon for a video demonstration of Digging Up the Past with Professor Dimwitty. Please note that the video uses a different recipe for the Discovering Dinosaur rocks than the one found in the guide.
Mystery Museum Games
Click or tap the icon for a day one pdf of the games guide that you can view online or print. The guide will lead you through how to experience bedtime as if you were blind and includes a daily learning objective, a supplies list, a new game with instructions, a classic tag game, and questions to ask the kids while you're playing together, plus a lesson reflection.
Click or tap the video icon for a video demonstration of Blindfold Bedtime.
Mystery Museum Music
Click or tap the icon for a pdf of the music guide that you can view online or print. The guide includes a daily reflection as well as a link to the songs.
Each day's song comes to you from the Saddleback Kids youtube page. The song is presented with easy-to-learn motions. Click or tap the video icon for the music video.
Mystery Museum Whodunnits?
A whodunnit is a mystery story that you can solve with the characters as you read along. A priceless portrait has gone missing at the museum. Lucky for us, the world's greatest detective, Shurkey Holmes, happens to be in town! Join Shurkey, the curator, and Miss Purple in solving The Case of the Vanishing Portraits.
Click or tap the icon for a complete pdf of the whodunnits that you can view online or print.