The story of Ruth may seem a strange story to read on the eleventh day of November, the day we in the UK remember all who have lost their lives in conflicts around the world.
Yet if we look more closely we discover a story that engages with many of the issues faced today by people who have to live in a war zone. Naomi, one of the principle characters in the story, returns to her homeland after being a refugee in a neighbouring country., having experienced, famine and the loss of her husband and two sons. She brings as her companion, her daughter-in-law, who could be described as a type of illegal immigrant. Naomi tells her friends who come to meet her: ‘Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.’
Move the story on and we uncover a tale of generosity, romance and kindness that has protection and redemption woven into it by the most unlikely of people. Above all Naomi discovers that her protection has been brought about by the hand of God touching the lives of others.
This surely has been the experience of so many down through the years. Our lives are never promised to be free of hardship and disappointment, but the teaching of the Scripture invites us to believe that one day all that we have lost, the injustices we have encountered and endured will be redeemed. Hence Job can cry ‘I know my redeemer liveth’ In other words there is a day coming when wrongs will be put right!
Today we stand with all who refuse to let bitterness define them
Soldiers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children - broken by war and violence
We stand beside them but we cannot begin to understand their sorrow
Countless dreams lost no longer recalled - gone wiped from a memory
Promises that should have been realised stolen by a gun or a bomb
Only a distant sound can be heard, like yesterday’s guns echoing down the years
We wait searching for some solidarity
Weave us all together as we stand in silence
Inspire us to believe we can become the unlikely threads of redemption,
Stands woven by your hand into the stories of injustice,
Bringing healing and restoration into a broken world order.
3 1 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. 2 Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing-floor. 3 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. 4 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.’ 5 She said to her, ‘All that you tell me I will do.’
4 13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.’ 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. 17 The women of the neighbourhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.