The story of Ruth is more than one of female companionship. It also asks the question of inclusion and belonging. Naomi made a life for herself in Moab. Will Ruth be able to do the same in Bethlehem? This is the second in a four-part series on the book of Ruth.
Bethlehem means “house of bread” in their language. I would laugh at the irony since there is so little to eat, but it hurts too much. Even though Naomi has kin in this town, no one has wanted to take in two widows. We’re just two more mouths to feed when people are still recovering from the famine.
We’ve found a place to live. It’s not so much a place as a space in between. Our “home” is in a corner where two buildings meet. It offers us some protection from the weather — and some protection from the dark as we try to stay hidden in its shadows. Alone, it’s hard to know where our greatest danger lies.
In the darkness, I can forget that we have nothing to eat. Saved from the light, I do not have to be reminded that I do not belong here. I do not have to pretend not to see the sour looks and not to hear the hushed conversations when I come near. I still hold to the oath I made to Naomi. I can claim her people as my own, but I cannot make her people accept me as one of them…
“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, sir, because you’ve comforted me and because you’ve spoken kindly to your female servant—even though I’m not one of your female servants.” – Ruth 2:13 (CEB)
This are pretty words, but Ruth is being bold. Boaz has offered Ruth kind words and a blessing. But Ruth tells him, he doesn’t have to wait to see if God will provide this blessing. Boaz can do it now. Ruth is challenging Boaz’ pious words. If he really believes what he said, then why not work to make it a reality?
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.