Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sun. July 3, 2011 (Laura Eriksson)

Laura Ericsson began our series on Women of the Bible. As she researched her message, conversations with other women she knew about “what makes a good story?” inspired Laura to see in the story of Ruth and Naomi many reflections of her own experience, and evoked an inquiry into God’s moving in mysterious ways. Her curiosity is piqued by Ruth’s inclusion in Jesus’ lineage rom Matthew - how did she, a Moabite woman, get into Jesus’ background? The four hundred years of the judges were dark days for Israel, and the death of Naomi’s husband and two sons made her sojourn in Moab fleeing famine in Israel, an unhappy one. Her decision to return home to Israel to Bethlehem, to be redeemed by family relations and feel closer to God was sensible. So too was her daughter-in-law Orpah’s decision to remain in Moab. Ruth’s decision, however is magic, and rewards Naomi’s grace and blessing of her daughters-in-law with Ruth’s loyalty. Did Ruth see in Naomi’s love for her God a blessing for her own life too? We are not told. Her return to her hometown as the barley harvest was beginning evoked in Laura of the times of harvest on the farm on which she grew up. Ruth fits right in and contributes to the community, the extended family; and God and Naomi begin to bring about a future for her. As Boaz’s attention is drawn to Ruth, his obligation to “redeem” must be properly done, and celebrated in land and covenant. Thus through Boaz, a son to Ruth - Obed - became a father to David in the line of Jesus. Laura identified three themes. God’s kindness overshadows our bitterness, seen in Ruth’s loyalty, Naomi’s blessing and chesed to her daughters, and in Boaz’s treatment of the foreigner Ruth. Two: A kind of dignity is present in distress, and Laura told stories from her own past about the kindness of strangers giving her dignity. Three: Grief turns into gratitude. God’s mercy gives us the grace to go on in our grief, and gives us a chance to redeem our lives in gratitude, and Laura read from Psalm 116, which she noted could be Naomi’s Psalm. This great story of redemption and grace and chesed rejuvenates our faith in God, who asks us to do the same. [AP]

Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday, July 3rd, 2011 using your browser's preferred media player.



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