November 9, 2019

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

November 9, 2019


Psalm 127
Ruth 4:18-22
Mark 11:12-14, 20-24
This weekend’s scripture: Philippians 1:3-11


“God is not only a divine person whom we can address in prayer, but also a wide living space. We human beings are giving each other space for living when we meet each other in love and friendship” (Jürgen Moltmann, A Broad Place: An Autobiography, Fortress Press, 2009).

One of the most popular websites around,, points to our interest in genealogy. Except for the addition of DNA searches, we’re not all that different from ancient peoples and their lists of who begot whom. Ruth 4:18-22 is unusual, however, because it points to a future that includes us. The ancestry of Ruth’s baby does not end with Obed; it continues to Obed’s son Jesse and grandson David (Ruth’s great-grandson). Good stories have surprise endings, and though it was a surprise that Ruth the Moabite married a prominent man of Bethlehem, the biggest surprise is that the genealogy of Jesus—the Son of David, shoot from the tree of Jesse—would come from such a lineage. This is our family delineated in the Book of Ruth, our faith family ancestry.

The family tree is another kind of “house-building” that God does. The Queen of England is from the “house of Windsor,” and Jesus’ lineage is cited to prove that he was a worthy king: he was of the “house of David” (Luke 1:27). In 2 Samuel 7 King David wants to build the Lord a grand house, more spectacular than any palace, but God refuses his offer. Speaking through the prophet Nathan, God says to David, “Who are you to build me a house?” I will move about among the people as I’ve always done. “Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. . . Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me” (7:11, 16).

As David is dying he reminds his son and heir of this promise. To honor God’s promised future, Solomon must “walk faithfully before God with all your heart and soul” (1 Kgs 2:4). When God builds the house, our future is sure forever. As Jesus has prepared a place for us (John 14:2), we respond faithfully by preparing a place for others—a place called home.


  • The image of God’s pitching a tent to live with the people wherever they went (2 Sam 7) is echoed in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” How can we be more attuned to God’s presence with us every day? What is our response to God’s presence?
  • What does it mean to “walk faithfully before God”? What can we do to work for change in conditions that keep us from feeling at home in troubled times? What gives us hope?


  • Thanksgiving is coming soon. What does it mean to say “Thanks”? What about the “Giving” part of the word? What should we be giving?
  • Who will be at your Thanksgiving dinner table? Who would you invite if you could invite anyone? Draw an imaginary Thanksgiving table at which all the children of the world are represented.


Faithful God, you have given us family: those around our holiday table and a world full of brothers and sisters called by your name. Give us the courage to live in your household and love all the people at your table. Grant us generous hearts that we may faithfully give as you have given.  Bring us your peace that, with our gratitude, we may not worry and not be afraid. We pray in thanksgiving for the gift of Jesus Christ. Amen.