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Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Today’s Scripture Reading | Ruth 3:1–5, 4:13–17
Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.”
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David. (NRSV)
“Where you go, I will go . . . your people will be my people, your God, my God.” We often hear these words of devotion that Ruth spoke to Naomi read aloud in wedding ceremonies. They are very much about loyalty, commitment, and belonging. The book of Ruth is filled with these themes, as well as the theme of survival in a world that favors some and diminishes others.
In the verses of this story that we don’t read, Boaz asks another relative if he will purchase a plot of land now for sale after the death of their relative. Boaz said, “The day you acquire the field from the hand of Naomi, you are also acquiring Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead man, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance” (Ruth 4:5).
The other relative declines, and Boaz buys the land and buys Ruth. And we are happy for her, because she will survive and thrive. Naomi lets go of her bitterness and celebrates the birth of a child to Ruth and Boaz. The child’s name, Obed, means “one who serves (God),” and he becomes the grandfather of King David and the ancestor of Jesus.
Ruth, an impoverished foreigner, a widow, desperate and willing to do whatever it takes to survive and to protect her mother-in-law, becomes one of four women listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (Luke only lists men). Throughout the story, Ruth proves that she is a woman worthy of respect, and Boaz shows that he is responsible and generous in his dealings with family and foreigners. In fact, Boaz welcomes Ruth, the foreigner from Moab, into his own family.
Loving God, thank you for walking with all our ancestors, in all times and places. Give me perseverance and wisdom like Naomi, courage and loyalty like Ruth, generosity and character like Boaz. Make me a force for good in the world. Amen.
Thanks to Alphonetta Wines and Wilda C. Gafney for their insights on this story (www.workingpreacher.org).
Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry
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