Church of England Diocese of Manchester Kirklees Valley

2) c) Reflections on the Book of Ruth - Jan 2021 - Week 3

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 3

Seeking Rest and Security

Reflection on Ruth Chapter 3

I suggest you read all of Ruth chapter 3: Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing-Floor

Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing-floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing-floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do. ’She said to her, ‘All that you tell me I will do.’ (Ruth 3:3-5)

Note The Hebrew word for security and rest are closely linked. Also the Hebrew word manowach is used to describe a home as a place of rest and security.

We would be forgiven about having read Ruth chapter 3 and thinking, ‘hello! what’s going on here? Did I actually read that? Well, yes you did read it. There is debate about what precisely was going on. I recall Rabbi Lionel Blue on ‘Thought for the Day’ in his usual self-effacing style saying ‘when you get two Rabbi’s in a room arguing a point you will get three opinions’. So, let’s put the debate on one side and not get bogged down too much.

So, with this in mind, and remembering that the story of Ruth is one of facing adversity and working, or perhaps it should be walking, through it. Naomi and Ruth’s journey was to seek a new normal where they could find rest and security in a new home. In this chapter we read of Naomi’s unselfish concern for Ruth’s future. A future where she will be secure and become part of a new family. We should remember that in the culture of the day the parents had a key role to play in securing a husband for their daughter; Naomi carried out this role for Ruth.

What happened that evening seems to have been an evening of revelry at the end of a hard day’s work bringing in the harvest. Boaz ends up sleeping with his workers.

Naomi explained to Ruth what she needed to do, she knew Boaz and was aware of the practice of kinsman-redeemer. The kinsman-redeemer had a defined role in Israel’s family life, that included a responsibility to carry on the family name by marrying a childless widow if necessary. This was not a reckless course of action, certainly strange to say the least by today’s standards but not reckless. Naomi did not put Ruth in harm's way. Naomi and Ruth had a loving and trusting relationship. Boaz had acted in a gracious way to Ruth.

There was some negotiating required by Boaz with a closer relation to Naomi’s family that had to be done before Boaz and Ruth could marry. Naomi is managing the situation well, things are going in the right direction, perhaps she is getting to the end of this journey.

This chapter is hovering on the verge of a happy ending, and more about the ending later.

2020 has been hard, we have all been affected by it. It has been a dark journey with uncertainties and perhaps there are still uncertainties ahead BUT all journeys have an end. One of my favourite songs from Rodger and Hammerstein’s 1945 musical Carousel is ‘You’ll never walk alone’. The song is sung to Julie Jorden whose husband Billy Bigelow, dies after a failed attempted robbery.

Let pause for a moment, let the familiar tune of You'll Never Walk Alone resound in your mind and quietly sing it to yourself

When you walk through a storm hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And You'll Never Walk Alone,
You'll Never Walk Alone.

As I pressed the ‘paste’ option to insert the words of ‘You’ll never walk along’ into this piece. I was listening to Classicfm and Alexander Armstrong’s Album of the Week, Andrea Bocelli’s Believe, and what should he begin to sing but ‘You’ll never walk along’. A coincidence, or as a Franciscan Friar we know, Brother Angelo, would have said, a ‘God incidence.’ I’ll leave that with you, a coincidence or a God incidence?

Now pause again.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our hymn is ‘In Christ alone my hope is found’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnXv2gAfPpE

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Generous God,
I give thanks to you for the gifts you have given me - my life, my family, my friends – time, talents, and material possessions. All that I have comes from you. Help me to remember this and rejoice in your goodness.
Walk with me, my God. Help me on my spiritual journey, so that I may constantly renew my relationship with you and all the good people in our parish and beyond.
Renew in me your Spirit. Give me the strength and courage to become a better follower of Jesus, to be a disciple. Help me hear the call to “Come, Follow Me.”
I give glory to you, my God, as I make stewardship a way of life. Amen. www.anglicanprayer.org


May today there be peace within.

May you trust your highest power

that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received,

and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones,

and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance.

It is there for each and every one of you.   Teresa of Ávila

Amen.                  

Derek Akker