We begin a four-part series on the book of Ruth this week.
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to abandon you, to turn back from following after you. Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD do this to me and more so if even death separates me from you.” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her about it.
So both of them went along until they arrived at Bethlehem. When they arrived at Bethlehem, the whole town was excited on account of them, and the women of the town asked, “Can this be Naomi?”
She replied to them, “Don’t call me Naomi, but call me Mara, for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has returned me empty. Why would you call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has deemed me guilty?” Thus Naomi returned. And Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, returned with her from the territory of Moab. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. – Ruth 1:16-22 (CEB)
In the book of Ruth, we join those who have heard this story in wondering why Ruth stays with Naomi. Maybe she grew to love Naomi and her foreign ways. Maybe Ruth wanted some adventure. Maybe she didn’t want to return to her family home, and the risk of death on the migrant trail seemed her best option.
Or it could be, whether Ruth or Naomi know it or not, this pagan, foreign, woman is speaking God’s word to Naomi. The same God that Naomi has said has come against her is the one Ruth now claims as her own. Regardless of what Naomi says and what lies ahead, Ruth will not abandon Naomi.
I don’t believe Naomi knows it yet, but I believe the Lord is reminding her that God won’t abandon her either. Despite how alone she feels, she is not alone. In this way, Ruth becomes the presence of God to Naomi.
I’m excited to announce my new book will be out this month!
Come to the Table: Communion Liturgies of Invitation to Celebrate and Experience the Love of God is a collection of communion liturgies inviting worshippers to experience and respond to the Gospel.