November 7, 2019

Home Economics

November 7, 2019


Psalm 127
Ruth 4:1-10
Romans 5:6-11
This weekend’s scripture: Philippians 1:3-11


Psalm 127 begins with an image for God found throughout the Bible: God the Housebuilder and Homemaker. Hymns often address God as almighty King, Lord, and Ruler, names that have to do with God’s sovereignty, but the Bible begins and ends with God’s creating home for us, a place to live together in peace, a place to love and worship God.

Schoolgirls were once required to take a class called “home economics.” We had lessons in sewing and cooking, but the purpose of the course was to help us understand the economy of running a household, the way to make resources available to all those in the home. Economy deals not simply with money matters but with how to make a house a home where everyone has enough to eat, something to wear, safe shelter, and a sense of belonging. This meaning of economy is the most ancient one and, in the Biblical sense, God is a “home economist.” Living in God’s image, women and men will work together to bring the conditions of home to all God’s creation.

The reading from Ruth today tells the strange detail of Boaz meeting the elders at the gate. He seals the deal for marriage to Ruth and the safekeeping of her family’s land when the other kinsman gives up his right to it by taking off his sandal. This strange way of legalizing a contract seems odd, but to my generation so does the prospect of biometric identification, such as iris recognition, which may become our legal sign of identity in the future.

We don’t often think of the economic aspects of Bible stories, but Ruth’s story makes clear the importance of taking responsibility for the stability of the home and its inhabitants. The well-being of the people, both then and now, depends on the well-being of the community’s households. Many of Jesus’ parables have to do with the economics of the farm households that sustained the community: the parable of the talents, the workers who came late to the vineyard, the wheat and the tares, the unjust steward. Our modern economic systems may differ, but even now if the household fails—“Unless the Lord builds the house”—the system itself will fail.


  • Romans 5:6-11 says that reconciliation is the result of Christ’s redeeming us. What does it mean to be reconciled to God?
  • Paul says that we were reconciled through Jesus’ death, but even more we will be saved through his life (v. 10). What does Jesus’ life as described in the Gospels mean for the way you live now? What does Jesus’ life after the resurrection, as our advocate with God, mean to you?


  • Remember the story and song about the house built upon the rock (Matthew 7:24-27)?
  • How can we help people who lost homes in the hurricanes, when the “rains came down and the floods came up”?


Our God, you are a rock in a weary land, our shelter in the storm. We give thanks for your presence that makes us at home with you even in troubled times and for sending Jesus us to prepare a home for us. Give us the courage to live now in your household of life so that we may care for our home on earth and for those who have no home. In Jesus’ name. Amen.