Church of England Diocese of Manchester Kirklees Valley

2) a) Reflections on the Book of Ruth - Jan 2021 - Week 1

Time for Prayer and Reflection

+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Opening sentence

One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life;

to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple.

To whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life,

and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory

Scripture Reading: the Book of Ruth Chapter 1

Naomi and Ruth’s walk to Bethlehem

Reflections on the book of Ruth (1)

Welcome to the first of four-reflections inspired by the book of Ruth. Ruth is a story of Naomi and her husband leaving the ancestral home due to famine, searching for a new home in Moab then of family tragedy and returning to the town they left. In the reflections we both reflect on the stories and how we can understand them in the light of today’s events.

Firstly, I suggest you read through the whole book of Ruth in one sitting if possible, it sets the scene for our time of reflection. It is not a long book; it is a good story and a good read.

Explanatory Note The ‘days of the Judges’ were the period after the death of Joshua and when the Israelites had moved from following the way that Joshua had established. It was an unsettled period toward the end of seventy years of Philistine rule. The Judges were the leaders of Israel.

The opening words of Ruth paint a tragic and painful story of a family being torn apart by death. It is bleak and dark but within this awful situation there is still hope. The hope, however, has a cost but a cost worth paying. Naomi, Ruth’s mother in law, wishes to find a way forward after a long period of pain and uncertainty, she wishes to find a new normal way of life. Naomi plans to leave her two widowed daughters in law in their homeland and return alone to Israel but Ruth insists that she will return with her mother in law. She is emphatic:

’. . . Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. (Ruth 1:16-17)

Naomi and Ruth set off back to Moab, modern day Jordan, a journey in the region of 50 miles/80KM. Their journey was risky, potentially dangerous with uncertainties, yet they embarked on this journey in search of this new normal way of life hopefully and with a deep and shared love. The love between Naomi and Ruth is a heart-warming story but it also has a challenge.

Let us sit comfortably, perhaps with a favourite drink and pause for our time of prayerful reflection:

As they set off let us be mindful this journey was not the most sensible thing for two lone women to be undertaking through rough terrain with the potential to be robbed. What was going through their minds, what question were they asking each other or just thinking? Were there long silences? Did Naomi gaze lovingly at Ruth in gratitude, did Ruth acknowledge that gaze with a smile? Let us in our imaginations ponder those questions and picture their long walk together.

As we begin a New Year let us journey along this uncertain path in hopeful love let us pray.

Lord, as we journey may we recognize that your glory shine through the world and that wherever we are, wherever we go, you are there you are our fellow traveler.

Lord, sometimes on our journey our faith has faltered, times when we have found it difficult, times when we have more questions than answers, times when we forgot you are our fellow traveller.

Lord, you sent your Spirit to warm our hearts, to challenge and encourage us may power shine through us.

Lord, we pray for those whose journey has become a struggle where anxiety, depression or loneliness or is overwhelming them.

Lord, we pray for those who struggle alone with grief at the death of a loved one and no longer have a companion to share their journey.

The Lord’s Prayer

We share in singing or saying the words of Sydney Carter’s hymn ‘One More Step Along The World I Go.’

One More Step Along The Way I Go
One More Step Along The World I Go
From The Old Things To The New
Keep Me Travelling Along With You.

And It’s From The Old I Travel To The New,
Keep Me Travelling Along With You

Round The Corner Of The World, I Turn
More And More About The World, I Learn And
The New Things That I See,
You’ll Be Looking At Along With Me.

And It’s From The Old I Travel To The New,
Keep Me Travelling Along With You

As I Travel Through The Bad And Good,
Keep Me Travelling The Way I Should
Where I See No Way To Go
You’ll Be Telling Me The Way I Know.

And It’s From The Old I Travel To The New,
Keep Me Travelling Along With You

Give Me Courage When The World Is Rough
Keep Me Loving Though The World Is Tough
Leap And Sing In All I Do
Keep Me Travelling Along With You.

And It’s From The Old I Travel To The New,
Keep Me Travelling Along With You

You Are Older Than The World Can Be
<span style="font-size: 1rem;">You Are Younger Than The Life In Me
</span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">Ever Old And Ever New
</span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">Keep Me Travelling Along With You.</span>

And It’s From The Old I Travel To The New,
Keep Me Travelling Along With You [2]

Closing Prayers

Loving Lord, on each day’s journey, may we walk with you.
may we reveal your love to those whom we meet,
<span style="font-size: 1rem;">and may we experience the joy of drawing closer to you.</span>

God’s peace go with you,
God’s joy uplift you,
God’s love be in what you do and say.
God’s strength empower you,
God’s truth grow in you
And guide your steps as you walk His way.

God’s peace go with us,
God’s joy uplift us,
God’s love be in what we do and say.
God’s strength empower us,
God’s truth grow in us
And guide our steps as we walk His way. P Arnold/S Crowley 2004

Derek Akker

Mourning_women, JPG