“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” – Ruth 1:16-17
This Week’s Scripture References: Ruth 1-4
This week we encounter the story of Ruth, a life profoundly impacted by unexpected turns and detours. In the midst of hardship, we find a beautiful example of family. Picture the grief, emotional pain, and fear that Ruth, her mother-in-law Naomi, and sister-in-law Orpah must have experienced as they endured one funeral after another. All alone in the world with no where else to turn; uncertain of what the future might hold; disenchanted that the hope for better life had only resulted in pain and suffering and the loss of her husband and sons, Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem. In an act of loving kindness, out of concern for their well-being, Naomi releases Orpah and Ruth from their obligations to her and Orpah returns to her family.
When have you taken an unexpected journey with God?
Ruth, in an expression of profound loyalty declares her desire and intention to remain with Naomi. Through Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi we see an example of what the loyalty of God is like; what God means when he says he will never leave you or forsake you.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
We see God’s hand at work as God provides for and cares for Naomi and Ruth. Consider these words adapted from the United Church of Canada: “On our journey of life and faith we believe in God; who has created and is creating, who has come in the true Man, Jesus to reconcile and make new. Who works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust God. God calls us to be the church: To celebrate the presence of God, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen our judge and our hope. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.”
In what ways have you experienced God with you in your life’s journey?
In what ways have you experienced the presence and power of God in loving and serving others?
In Ruth’s story we are given a new understanding of family. Boaz rescues Ruth in an act of loving kindness that goes beyond what is necessary. In this newly formed family we experience sacrificial love that paints a picture of what is to come. Naomi’s sorrow turns to joy in the birth of Ruth’s son Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth’s story stretches the boundaries of family and love as we learn the stories of Jesus’ family lineage. A family lineage that includes those normally on the outside, living in the margins of our world. Unexpected and ordinary people used by God in extraordinary ways to make way for the coming of his Son. In the love of Christ we are all invited into this story and adopted as the family of Christ. We are each called to be a living example of this redeeming love and grace.
How is God calling you to participate in this extraordinary love?
To listen to this week’s sermon, The Faith of a Foreign Woman, Sermon 4/4 in “Detour” The Story Mini-Series, click here!
For Family Devotions related to this week’s message, click here!
For more information and additional resources for The Story at Faith UMC, click here!