November 8, 2019
Bright Hope for Tomorrow
November 8, 2019
The Book of Ruth has a happy ending, but it is no fairy tale. No one waves a magic wand. The marriage of Ruth and Boaz came about because Naomi understood how things worked in those days, and she and Ruth plotted, planned, and persisted. Boaz fulfills his role, and Ruth will make a home for them as Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah, had done—together they “built up the family of Israel” (4:11).
Ruth and Naomi’s initiative and capable hands do the work, and God does what only God can do. God creates life: when Boaz made love to Ruth, “the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son” (v. 13). This is not quite a conventional family: Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law from her previous marriage, is part of the home. Naomi had lost both the sons she gave birth to, but the women of the town are quick to remark that a daughter-in-law like Ruth is “better to you than seven sons.” That’s quite a statement in a culture where sons were prized above all else. “God has given Naomi a son,” they say, as Naomi takes charge of the baby. God has secured Naomi’s home and family name as well.
Naomi is blessed by God with the gift of a loving family and a child to secure the future, echoing Psalm 127:3: “children are a heritage, . . . a reward from the Lord.” We know, however, that having children is not always possible, and in this day of over-population, we also honor the decision of those who remain childless by choice. Naomi finds hope for the future, not by giving birth again, but through her generative spirit. All of us, with or without children of our own, have a responsibility to the next generation. Like Naomi, we can help nurture the children of others, and we can work to make the world a good place for future generations to live. We can show God’s love to all the children.
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- When Jesus was questioned about his family, he pointed to those around him and said, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). In light of Jesus’ words, how do we as Jesus’ followers define “family”?
- What does it mean to be “generative”? What are our responsibilities to children not related to us?
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- Ruth and Naomi worked hard to make a home. What do we learn from this story about how we work with God to make our home and our earth a good place to grow up?
- What can we do to make young children feel at home? In church? In school? On the playground?
Loving God, as Jesus blessed the children and gave thanks for their openness to your word; help us remember the children in our care, the children we can name and those whose names we don’t know. We pray for refugee children and all who are homeless, and for children separated from parents and all who live in places of war and violence. Give us peace. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.