28th April 2024

At our last Breakfast Church we looked at the Old Testament character of Ruth. Her story can be found in the book of Ruth, sandwiched between Judges and 1 Samuel. This short narrative tells a big story of economic hardship, the movement of people, family loss, and community welcome.

In the story we meet Ruth and Naomi. Naomi, her husband and two sons become migrants due to famine and travel to the land of Moab, seeking a better life. The sons marry Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah, but tragedy strikes and the three men of the family die. Having heard that the famine has ended Naomi chooses to return to her community and ancestral family lands in Bethlehem, Judah. Each of Naomi’s daughters-in-law make makes their own choice. Orpah returns to her family, but Ruth chooses to travel with Naomi. Committing herself to Naomi’s community, her values and her faith:

‘Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I will go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God – not even death itself is going to come between us!’

In Judah, Ruth and Naomi are culturally vulnerable as women without male protection. While this is unfamiliar to us in Britain it is not an unfamiliar situation for many women around the world today. As Ruth seeks to provide food for herself and Naomi she goes to glean, pick up the scraps and the leftovers, in the field of a man named Boaz. He is a man of integrity who observes the customs and laws put in place by the Torah to protect the poor and vulnerable. He encourages Ruth to continue to glean in his fields. And demonstrates generosity by encouraging his servants to leave extra for her as well as to respect and protect her.

Boaz is presented as a man of integrity, Ruth a woman of great loyalty. They come together in a culture which had been instructed to be generous and protective of the most vulnerable in its society. In doing so we find them featured in the genealogy of King David and ultimately Jesus. The choices we make find us being woven into God’s Story!

Joanne Meharg,
St Mary’s Churchwarden