Worship at Home or Sunday, November 7, 2021

Dear Friends,

This week we continue to learn about Ruth and Naomi. Ruth and Naomi are two ordinary women with difficult circumstances in their lives. May their story provide some insight into the past and for our daily lives.

If you need anything, please call me at the church office (437-2779) or my cellphone (573-832-2475). If you would like to have a copy These Days mailed to you or home communion, let me know.

Announcements:

  • Sunday School after worship today.
  • Church Council Meeting on Monday at 6:30pm
  • Bell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm & Choir Practice at 6:30
  • Turkey Supper will be on Saturday, November 20.
    We are looking for people to sign up to bake pies.
    The Country Store will need donations of baked goods and crafts.
  • Totenfest will be on Sunday, November 21 during the 9am worship. This is when we remember those who have died in the past year. You may email Pastor Stephanie with any remembrance requests that you may have.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17, Psalm 127; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44

 

Sermon:

Last week our story left Ruth and Naomi on the road from Moab to Bethlehem. The two widows are hungry seek food and comfort in the hometown of Naomi’s late husband. The lectionary readings offer important snippets of their story, but leave out quite a bit. A brief summary of the events before the reading from Chapter 3 would be:

  • Ruth and Naomi arrive in Bethlehem where their arrival creates some excitement and questions. Is that really Naomi people ask? Naomi says yes, it is her and that she returns empty and bitter.
  • Naomi and Ruth settle into the home of her late husband’s family, for now. Their future is uncertain as a male relative of Naomi’s late husband Elimelech would have the legal right to claim the property from Naomi. As husbandless women in the ancient world, they need a kinsman family protector to ensure their survival.
  • The barley harvest is taking place, so Ruth chooses to find a field where she will be allowed to glean. Gleaning is a charitable act in which the poor are allowed to gather and keep the grain left behind by the harvesters. Since Ruth and Naomi have no other source of income, this is what they must do.
  • Ruth finds herself gleaning in the fields owned by Boaz who treats her kindly. Naomi is delighted to discover that Ruth has found favor with Boaz as he is one of the male relatives with the legal right to claim the land belonging to Naomi’s late husband Elimelech.

Both the readings from Mark and Ruth deal with widows. In Mark, Jesus is angry with scribes who take advantage of widows while walking around the marketplace in long robes reciting long prayers and taking the places of honor at banquets. People who wore long robes would have been at the top of the social hierarchy. I mean how much physical labor can you do in a long robe. I worry about tripping and falling in my preaching robe on Sunday. I couldn’t imagine cleaning house or gardening in one.

The scribes had the legal power to determine the inheritance of widows. Would the widow be allowed to stay in the home that she had shared with her husband after the husband dies? Or would the home be given to the son, brother-in-law or other male relative? If the home was awarded to a male relative of the deceased, the widow could find herself homeless. If the home was valuable the male relatives of the deceased might invite the scribe or scribes in charge of dividing the deceased property to a banquet and honor the scribe to convince the scribe to give him the widow’s home. If the banquet giver was successful, the widow would be left homeless and destitute. Knowing this you can understand why Jesus is so angry at the pretentious scribes who would choose to place widows in such a precarious position.

Ruth and Naomi being widows are in a precarious position unless they can find a kinsmen redeemer who will protect them. Naomi determines that since Boaz has taken a liking to Ruth and allowed her to glean in his fields is the man to protect them. At the time of the threshing festival, she advises Ruth to dress up and look pretty for Boaz in the hopes of getting her man, because their lives depend on it.

Naomi is sounds like a mother in a Jane Austen novel who understands just how important it is for her daughters to marry well. The mother of Rose in the movie Titanic, insists that Rose marry her rather than unpleasant fiancé due to the family’s poor economic conditions. Fancy in the Reba McEntire song of the same name is encouraged to put on a nice dress and be nice to the gentleman. Naomi is doing the same with her widowed daughter-in-law and praying for the best.

Ruth follows Naomi’s advice and lies down at Boaz’ feet on the threshing floor. When Boaz wakes up and finds her there Boaz is nice to Ruth. Boaz agrees to be the kinsman redeemer and claim the property with the understanding that he will deal kindly with Naomi and Ruth. The women have used what was in their means to obtain their security.

After some legal negotiations, Boaz redeems the property, and the women are safe from homelessness and starvation. Boaz marries Ruth, and they have a son, Obed. Obed is handed to Naomi as her son to compensate her for the sons who died. The women praise Naomi and tell her that she has been lucky to have Ruth. Obed becomes the grandfather of King David. Kind David is an ancestor of Jesus. In the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5, Ruth and Boaz are both named as ancestors of Jesus. Ruth is one of the few women mentioned in the list.

Our hopes and prayers are that all who find themselves in precarious positions find someone who will offer them protection from homelessness and starvation. If Boaz had not honorably fulfilled his kinsman duties who knows what would have happened. Knowing the story and background of the Book of Ruth, gives us insight as to why Jesus was so troubled by Scribes who chose to give the homes of widows to those who could put money in the treasury while leaving a widow to put in all on which she had to live. May we choose to be ones who give hope and comfort to the widows and the powerless in our world.

Prayer

God who redeems and saves us, open us to share with the most vulnerable in our community. Offer us comfort and strength in the times when we feel vulnerable. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Prayer list:

All who have been on our list in the past and Bev, Elizabeth, Beverly and Cheryl, Ty who has recovered from Covid, Kaye’s family, Jean, Jim, Peggy.
Joy! Marcie is on a list for a guide dog.

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