The Only Way is Keeping Up With Esther

Themes: Knowing right from wrong; taking action; the Bible story of Esther and Mordecai; the festival of Purim.

Summary: The story of Esther and Mordecai is told in the Bible in The Book of Esther. It features in the Jewish festival of Purim, when reading the story of Esther is a commandment. The story tells how the Jewish people living in Persia are saved from destruction by the bravery of a young Jewish woman called Esther.

Resources: the assembly framework to download / print (pdf); an image showing the names of the main characters in the story.

The video

The story of Esther and Mordecai is retold - in the style of an OTT reality TV show.

King Ahasuerus has grown tired of Queen Vashti and has her thrown out of the palace. He gives the courtier Haman responsibility for finding him a new wife and Haman quickly identifies Esther as perfect. Esther's guardian is her cousin, Mordecai, who insists on going to the palace with Esther, while warning her not to reveal their Jewish faith. When Haman discovers their identity he convinces the King to have all Jews in the land killed - and Esther must find a way to save her people.

Duration: 5' 30"

Final words: ' ... but it was enough time for me!'

Video questions

  • What is Esther doing when we first meet her? (Selling books - she offers to translate the books into any other language)
  • Why is Esther happy to go to the palace? (She hasn't sold any books in ages...and she thinks she may be able to make life better for Jewish people)
  • How does Haman discover that Mordecai is Jewish? (When Mordecai reveals that he wasn't bowing, but praying to 'the one true Lord - Jehovah')
  • How does Haman persuade the King to issue the decree against the Jews? (He tells lies about them, saying they disobey the kingdom's laws)

Key links

Assembly framework (pdf)
Image: the names of the main characters

Suggested framework

1. Entry
Play suitable music as everyone enters. A possible suggestion is 'This Is Me' from The Greatest Showman.

2. Introduction
Ask everyone to close their eyes and picture a character - a character we're going to meet shortly. Describe Haman. Say that he was a brute who always got his own way. That he laughed at people less fortunate than him. That if anyone ever looked like they might outshine him in anything, he would trick them, or the people in charge, to make sure that they lost and he always won. That he wanted to hurt anyone that wasn’t on his side. That he was a bully.
There was a big problem however. Haman worked for the King, and the King trusted him. Explain that we're now going to watch a short video showing a story from the Bible about Haman. It shows how he finally met someone who risked everything to stand up for what was right - a young woman called Esther.

3. The video
Play the video. The duration is 5' 30" and the final words are: 'But it was enough time for me!'

4. After the video - Time to talk

  • Ask everyone to think about Esther. Was her position as Queen safe? Think about what had happened to Queen Vashti.
  • Explain that Esther was also from a poor background and did not have any powerful family standing up for her. Haman did not like Esther’s uncle Mordecai so used the fact he was a Jew to persuade the King to have all Jews killed. This was a really dangerous situation and Esther could easily have been sentenced to death along with her uncle. But what did Esther do? She chose to stand up for what she believed, and told the King that she too was a Jew. That shows courage.
  • Often it takes courage to stand up for what is right. We might see people in school being unkind and acting in a way that makes us and others feel small. If we can be brave, like Esther, then these people have the power taken away from them. Without that power, they don’t seem so big.
  • Ask everyone if they can think of any other occasions in films or stories when a character stands up for what is right? Harry Potter standing up to Lord Voldemort - or Simba standing up to Scar in The Lion King. (Take other suggestions.) These characters were not the ones that looked like they had the power, but they knew what was right. Sometimes we need to find our inner strength and be brave, like Esther in the story, and stand up for what is right.

5. Opportunity for reflection
Can you think of anytime you have seen something happening that you knew was not right - but you chose not to do anything about it..?
How do you think it would feel to be brave and take that stand..?
How would it help other people if you stood up for what was right..? And not just what was easy..?

6. Opportunity to sing
Suggestions for suitable songs below.

7. Opportunity for prayer
Use your usual form of address ('Dear God', 'Lord', 'Close your eyes and reflect', etc) and: Thank you that we know what is wrong and what is right.
Help us to be brave and have the courage to stand up for what is right, no matter how difficult it might be.

8. Exit
Play the same music as the Entry. If it has a theme like 'This Is Me' ask everyone to listen carefully to the lyrics as they leave and reflect on what they have been hearing.

Suggested songs

Song: 'Being a friend' (All about our school, no 8. Vocal version)

Song: 'You've got to move'. Come and Praise, no 107. Vocal version.

Other suitable songs

'A little bit of kindness' - Songs for EVERY happy, healthy school

Other assembly frameworks in this set

The Kitchen Miracle-Maker (Jesus Feeds the 5000)
Living Your Best Life (Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy)
Samson - The Judge