I live in a tranquil community with walking trails, bike lanes, and beaver ponds. But when I look out my window I see pain in my neighborhood: One couple is ending a thirty-five-year marriage due to infidelity; another neighbor recently buried his wife; another is going through cancer treatments; a recent immigrant family is feeling isolated as they try to learn English and adjust to a new culture.
I often wonder how any of us do it; you know, get through life—go to work, walk the dog, and put dinner on the table. When life throws us a hard blow, how do we go on?
Naomi had tremendous sorrow in her life after losing her husband and two sons. She felt bitter and forsaken by God. But then one day, after years of suffering, she took a sober look at her life and decided to live.
Naomi’s decision helped both her widowed daughters-in-law to find that courage as well. Orpah decided to return to her family; but the other, Ruth, decided to follow her heart. Ruth pledged her love and loyalty to Naomi. Together they put one foot in front of the other and found the will to forge a life in a world where they, as widows, have no sense of safety and security. Together they created a bond of trust that allowed them space to breathe in the midst of their desperation.
When life throws us a hard blow, how do we go on? I think if we were to ask Ruth and Naomi, they would probably say, by the grace of God. They discovered that grace through friendship, honest conversation, and giving each other the space to slowly heal. This gift of grace they could see only in the fullness of time.
Loving God, remind us that your grace surrounds us even in the midst of our sorrows. Amen.
Ruth and Psalm 146 share a thematic connection. Ruth is a foreigner who decides to follow the God of the Israelites, and the psalmist praises God for being the trustworthy God who cares about the poor, the oppressed, and the foreigner. In Ruth, Boaz will demonstrate this kind of care for her. The New Testament readings focus on sacrifice. Hebrews teaches us that Christ was both the greatest high priest and the eternal sacrifice. A scribe in Mark receives praise from Jesus, for he understands that the sacrificial system was less weighty than the act of loving one’s neighbor. Ruth and this scribe are examples of those, named and anonymous, who have come before us in the faith. We celebrate them on All Saints Day.
• Read Ruth 1:1-18. When have you left the familiar behind to set out into the unknown? Where did you experience God’s presence and help?
• Read Psalm 146. When you have found yourself in despair about the world, where have you witnessed God’s work that brings you hope?
• Read Hebrews 9:11-14. How willing are you to release your bag of sins and shortcomings to Jesus?
• Read Mark 12:28-34. In what ways do you understand yourself as a spiritual being having a human experience? What does that mean to you?
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