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…)
The Hebrew and Christian scriptures tell us a story. Sometimes that story is about our origins. At other times, the story is about our successes and failures. Many times, the story is about our penchant for forgetting who and whose we are until we encounter God who reminds us of both. If you read much of the story for yourself, you’ll notice that God encounters us in places which are remarkable for their very ordinariness. In short, God doesn’t call us out of the world into encounter; rather, God encounters us in the ordinary world God made for us to flourish in.
I’ve been cleaning out my desk at home this week. Found an old notebook in a drawer. I know just when I last wrote in it. I figure its been waiting for me; or I’ve been waiting for it. It was 2009. I was taking a poetry writing class on poetic forms. Curiously, the teacher wasn’t interested in lecturing us on sonnets or sestinas or ghazals or haikus or what have you. He, himself, thought our job as poets wasn’t to sit down and write a sonnet because we thought it would be fun to write a sonnet that day. No. He said out job was to decide what we wanted to say and then to find the best form in which to say it. He said poetic forms, received or invented, were merely ways to advocate for what we wanted to say. Form is necessary; yet, it is not sufficient. You have to have something you want to say. No sense having a lovely vessel with nothing inside. (more…)