English Standard Version (ESV)
As a reminder, what Queen Vashti did was refuse to be displayed by the king while he was drunk. The men around the king are instantly fearful -- if other women see Vashti refusing an order from the King, then they might begin to think and act independently as well, and the men are fearful, afraid of what a society of powerful women might look like. They aren't about to let this power go quietly, so they issue a decree making an example of Queen Vashti in the hopes of preventing other women from using her as an example when they stand up to the injustices they are exposed to on a consistent basis.
This is a reminder to us that the story of Esther takes place during a time when women were not considered equal with men -- when the only way to honor a husband was to be subservient and domestic. Interesting that we come across this reading after Mother's Day, a day in which we should honor the way that all women bravely and courageously serve our society and enrich us all. The men were afraid of what might happen if the women stand up to the men. They shrunk back in fear from the unknown. What they should have considered is all the ways that society would be enriched by the knowledge and strength that women could bring. They couldn't see beyond what they knew, and they missed out on countless benefits by trying to keep women controlled. The story of Esther is a story about a women who risks her own life to save her people.
This story is also a reminder to us that society continues to miss out because we see things as they are, not as they could be. Who are the people in your circle, in your church, in your city that are not encouraged to see themselves as made in the image of God and equal with everyone else? Where has society not encouraged certain individuals to be free and fierce and brave? Where can the church lift the eyes of others' to a future where people from every tribe and nation will gather around the throne of God as equals?
Jesus has come to call all of us, each of us, and there is no privilege given to rich or poor, male or female or black or white. Let's pray for Holy Spirit vision to pay attention to where society isn't encouraging certain individuals or groups to be independent and empowered, and may we reach out to one another as we move forward in Christ.
Remember, at one point the church didn't allow the laity to read the Bible, and church service was held in Latin rather than the vernacular. The way things have been isn't the way they must be going forward. God is doing a new thing!