Ruth 1: 1-17
And God – invisible, but ever present.
The story of Ruth has it all. Ruth is a woman of faith – even though she does not know it.
Ruth is a woman who is dedicated, devoted and loyal – in spite of the difficulties it brings her.
And today, if someone is without loyalty, compassion, generosity of spirit we call them Ruth- less.
Ruth was not a Jewess like her mother-in-law; she was not tied to the traditions and rituals that Naomi was, yet, her deep sense of duty led her to make a life changing decision.
It is clear that she and Orpah are devoted to Naomi; they love her and they want to continue to love and support her. But Naomi releases them from their obligations. You don’t have to do this; you don’t have to come with me to a foreign land; I release you from that obligation – because I will never be able to fulfil my own obligation to you… so go! Go back to your families with my blessing. Start again with my approval.
And as we know, eventually Orpah is convinced to return home; but Ruth – Ruth is determined that she will not; and her declaration: “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people; your God will be my God…” has become synonymous with declarations of love & commitment.
The whole story of Ruth is not long; just four chapters, chapter 2 – Ruth begins to work to care for her mother-in-law and herself. Chapter 3 she finds her nearest relative and asks him to marry her; Chapter 4 she and Boaz are married, and Naomi is blessed with a grandson to carry on the family line.
This shows us, as do so many of the stories in the bible, that faith is at its most powerful when we step out in uncertainty.
Ruth did not know what would happen to her, or even if she would have a future when she took those steps towards Bethlehem with Naomi. But she knew deep in her heart that is was right; she felt something stirring that could not be named, yet was irresistible: she must stay with Naomi; she must dedicate her life to her, and, more importantly to her God.
This was a true leap of faith; stepping out boldly, without knowing what lay ahead. And her promise, which turned her away from her own people, her own gods, is all the more beautiful because of it.
Anytime we are privileged to witness a stepping out in faith, we are truly blessed; today we are reminded of the ancient tradition established all those thousands of years ago; and we witness something wonderful as we share in Matthew’s own declaration of faith and love.
As we hear him, vocalising; praising God, responding to God’s call in his life; we remember the cry of Ruth:
Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God
And we are truly blessed