When There Has to Be Some Truth-Telling
Third in the series
Ruth: A Handbook for Christians
So far in our story from the book of Ruth, this is the way things are:
Naomi is in need. Without a husband and without sons, she is cut-off from the land and from the future children bring, both of which in her ancient agrarian society are central to the flourishing of a person’s life. Life happened to Naomi and she is, as she says, left empty and bitter, without a future she’d want anyone to share in.
Ruth, however, acts on Naomi’s need. She clings to Naomi so Naomi will not be alone. She gleans for Naomi so Naomi will have food to eat. Ruth embodies the power of human agency to act on the way things are and bring about positive change. In the face of the chaos Naomi is thrust into by events beyond her control, Ruth remains steadfast to her and works to find what is needed to sustain her life.
Yet, although she can stand with Naomi and sustain Naomi in the midst of the way things are, she cannot change the basic reality of Naomi’s life. Sure, they are scraping by, but is scraping by God’s vision for them?
Glean What You Can to Nourish Life
2nd in the series Ruth: A Handbook for Christians
As the first chapter of the story of Naomi’s restoration came to a close last week, she and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, from the land of Moab, arrive in Bethlehem. Bethlehem, as you may remember, means House of Bread, and the famine which had caused Naomi to flee with her family, husband and sons, to Moab has come to end; the House of Bread, again, has bread. So Naomi returns home, embittered. Ruth is with her, steadfastly at Naomi’s side.
But to what is she returning? How will she sustain her life? Sure, she’s back where she came from, but without a man to husband her and without sons to work for the bread she will need to eat so she can stay alive. Remember, she’s not living in our time, but hers, as hard as that is for us to hear, and without a husband and sons, she’s vulnerable, without the resources she needs to thrive. How will she make it, she who, in the first chapter, had all that woman of her time counts on to flourish in life taken from her?
When Someone Tells You There Isn’t a Future
First in the series Ruth: A Handbook for Christians
By Rev. Robin Yim
This story begins with a famine. There is no bread in Bethlehem, a town whose name means House of Bread, which means you might not be able to make your home there anymore. Without bread, you can’t make home.
So, what are you going to do?
In worship this month, I’d like to think with you about becoming agents of God’s restoration in the world. We will do this by taking a deep dive together into the book of Ruth, a book of just four chapters, yet filled with finely cast sentences and vivid characters. If you haven’t read it, you should.
Ruth is squeezed between Judges and 1 Samuel in the Old Testament and is the sort of story you can read with interest and pleasure in a single sitting, along with a cup of coffee or tea and something to snack on.
With what should I approach the Lord
and bow down before God on high?
Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings,
with year-old calves?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with many torrents of oil?
Should I give my oldest child for my crime;
the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit?
He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. (more…)