As a new pastor I feel like I am learning things all the time: big things, beautiful things, humble things, things about the world, about people who love God and about God who loves people.
So here is what I learned today. Don’t go to a theological library on the morning you need to write a brief reflection about the book of Ruth. I was so excited getting my ‘clergy card’ at Bridwell Library at SMU that I came home with five new books on women in the Bible and on feminist biblical interpretation. And now I am not quite sure what to do with myself or how to digest these words and turn around and write words of my own that hopefully speak to our community’s needs and desires. It turns out this little story of Ruth about an unconventional relationship between two women has caused some commotion in the tradition, and there are plenty of books to help us explore every nuance of the drama.
Ruth is a story over 2000 years old yet it carries themes that seem to speak into the heart of contemporary culture: questions of how to treat resident aliens from another land, how women use limited resources, including their bodies and sexuality, to procure protection for themselves and their kin, and how God meets us in the mundane and the messy corners of our lives.
It is this dimension of Ruth that speaks to me the most. It is granular level stuff-a story that gets inside human experience and suggests that through relationships we sometimes are able to make a way where there seemed to be no way. Ruth reminds us that we can offer companionship even when that is all we have to offer. Her story also suggests that sometimes embracing our vulnerability and traveling into the unknown can birth new life.
Last week we talked about cultivating a chosen family and loving each other fiercely. We asserted that home is found in people, not a place. This week we travel further into the book of Ruth and see how her life with Naomi unfolded after she made her bold pledge of solidarity in the first chapter saying “your people will be my people, and your God my God.”
It turns out it is not so easy to be a foreigner, a woman, and a widow in ancient Palestine and that Ruth has to keep her wits about her. Join us Sunday as we read more of her story and ask each other where we hear God on the move and how Ruth speaks to our yearnings for the Divine in this time and this place.