Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Book of Ruth

Despite my earlier rant about house-hunting, I was feeling rather peaceful this morning.

I was feeling peaceful this morning and I credit it to reading the Book of Ruth. I read chapter 1 a few days ago and read chapters 2 through 4 this morning. Its a beautiful story about how caring for others and doing what is right brings forth the Kingdom of God. Naomi's husband and sons, one of whom was Ruth's husband, die. Naomi urges her two daughters-in-law to go home and return to their families of origin. One does, Ruth does not. Her answer to Naomi is a well-known verse (...whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people and thy God my God...1:16, KJV). I read that aloud in church as part of the lectionary a few weeks ago. It is sweet and beautiful and I think its sometimes used in wedding ceremonies.

I knew the story of Ruth from reading Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner more than a year ago. Lauren grew up a Reformed Jew, converted to Orthodox Judaism in college and a few years later, felt called to Christianity and became an Episcopalian. Because of her heritage and love of Judaism, Lauren spends a chapter of her book discussing the Book of Ruth. Ruth eventually remarries and bears a son. The Book of Ruth says that this is Naomi's son and ends with a genealogy which includes Ruth and her new husband, Boaz, the father of the child who later becomes the father of Jesse, who becomes the father of David. Jesus is born from the line of David, through Joseph. Its no surprise that this aspect of the book is of interest to Lauren as she finds it significant in laying the groundwork for how Jesus can be descended. Its beyond me to explain it here unless I was to lift several paragraphs from her book and then it probably still would't be clear. Read her book, its the spiritual journey of a young woman and its especially fascinating because of her love of Judaism and Christianity. Its also a bit racy in parts, the girl is not free from sin (who is?)

Back to my take on Ruth. From the studies I've done on the Old Testament, I'm aware that there were many regulations for the Israelites regarding all aspects of life, including the redemption of property for families and the provisions for the care of widows. I won't get into details because I'd probably get it wrong, but suffice it to say that family members are to make sure that a widow who has not borne a child finds another man in the family to fulfill the duty. Like all regulations, some are followed and some are ignored. In this case, as far as I can tell, everyone did what they were supposed to do and acted nobly. Ruth could have returned to her family of origin and looked for a new husband. She was a Moabite, so she did not share the God of the Israelites. When she chose to go with Naomi, she still could have chased for a husband, but she did as Naomi told her. Boaz also did what was expected of him in marrying Ruth, because he was kin of Naomi's deceased husband.

The end result was the birth of a child who took his place in the lineage of Jesus. Because they did what was right and within the commands of God, Jesus was born. When you do what is right and honorable and in accord with God's will (as evidenced in the laws), we will see the Kingdom of God on earth.

I realize that this is an oversimplification and perhaps I've made factual errors and misinterpretations. The interruptions I've endured while writing this are as numerous as the stars in the sky. My point is that in reading the Bible, I sometimes am able to find those little kernels that give me peace and move me forward.


Ellie15 said...

I like this, Marjorie. I have in mind to link my comments on Ruth to it, with your permission. It is a good example of how a layman creatively uses the Bible.

Between you and me, there is more. I could say God sent you there because you needed a lift. He's sure done it for me, my awakening in fact.

I don't customarily choose a verse at random to answer my questions, but don't discount; he (she) is fully capable of it.

I came across something in Our Knowledge of God that really woke me up: we can't experience God any more than we can experience another person. We can only meet God (personally). Meanwhile everything that happens is a direction and a challenge from God. We relate to God or we avoid God by our actions.

That certainly doesn't describe my relationship to God, but I can see the possibilities. Infinitely exciting.

I like you, Marjorie because you are truly godly, and you turn me in tht direction.


Marjorie said...

Larry, you are very kind and very encouraging, thank you. We are all godly when we allow ourselves to be -- its like the changing light amongst trees, sometimes there is shadow and sometimes there is light and its brief and ever changing. Its so wonderful when someone else sees a bit of light peeking through you.

You certainly may link to this, I'm glad you enjoyed it.