Sunday 25 October
Ruth 3 – NIV, Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing Floor – Christine Idle in Church & Fiona on Zoom3 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for. 2 Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight, he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
5 “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!
9 “Who are you?” he asked.
“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer[b] of our family.”
10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”
14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.”
15 He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he[c] went back to town.
16 When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?”
Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”
18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”
Message: - God’s care for those he loves
Just before we dig into this week’s reading, I played a video of the praise song “open the eyes of my heart Lord” to the congregation just before I started my message today. It showed a flower in the shape of a red heart, called Lamprocapnos or bleeding heart, that had me wondering why? Why would a flower be that shape? I can’t imagine insects, birds or animals would recognise the shape, perhaps that speaks of my arrogance, that I could think only humans can appreciate its shape. But then I realised, as I thought of who created it, why not! God created all things so why not create a flower that shape, specifically so we can appreciate it!
The level of detail in God’s provision just blows my mind!
Anyway! To our reading. This week we see Boaz extend his provision for Ruth to include allowing her to lay with him so he can keep her safe.
Ruth in turn, wakes before first light to leave him on his own to protect his reputation. The story speaks so strongly of care and of provision for the carers. What better motif could we use as we come towards Communion later in our service than the provision of care.
Boaz, cares for Ruth and Naomi, Ruth cares for Boaz by her respectful behaviour towards him. God still has his hand in the story, providing care for them too. Generations later, God will still have his hand providing care for his children when he sends His Son to save them and he provides care for his son in the form of his empowerment to perform his miracles and for Christ’s resurrection.
Yet in all of these examples of care there was a need for Faith and Trust too. The message, I believe, is for us to nurture our Faith and our Trust in God. To ask Him to guide us and resource us as only he can and then to step out in faith, guided by our hearts to serve him as we care for those around us.
That is after all what Ruth did with Boaz, she placed herself at Boaz’s mercy and trusted him to do right by her. Then when she told Naomi, she in turn, trusting in her God, suggested to Ruth “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”.
For us, as we look to Communion, we may think we know the story but we don’t, not fully! God after all is the light of the World who was and is and “is to come” and we don’t know what he has in mind for our tomorrows. We do however know what he had in mind for our Today.
We see in the bible, the sorry state Israel was in. In reality, humanity, if anything is in a worse state today. So, when we read of God sending his one and only Son to redeem the lost, Christ came to Earth to redeem You! Here, Now, Today! That was God’s plan for our today. As for tomorrow, for the tomorrow of Ruth, we need to wait until chapter 4 which comes next week. For our Tomorrow, we need to wait until God shows us. Not a “passive wait” however, but an active wait. Seeking to grow closer to God and seeking to listen for his guidance as we seek to care for those around us as he chooses to guide us.
I am reminded of a reading from Matthew 25:40 that goes like this, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Shall we all go and serve the Lord, to his glory.