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Reading: Ruth Chapter 2
Travel to foreign countries sometimes requires completing an entry form with personal details. What might Ruth have shared on her entry to Israel, and how then would she tell her story.
Name: Ruth Nationality: Moabite Status: Childless widow
Proposed Residence: Bethlehem
I travelled with my mother-in-law Naomi from Moab to her home town Bethlehem when we heard there was no longer famine there. We were greeted on arrival. Life was hard as work for widows (and there were two of us) was non-existent. Food was scarce. As harvest time neared we recalled the law of Leviticus which stated, ‘when you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and alien.’ WE WERE POOR and I was an alien, a foreigner. Cutting the harvest commenced and I joined women workers in a field gathering up the gleanings, the barley corn dropped by the male farm employees. It was hot back breaking work but Naomi and I needed this corn for food. The owner of the field visited and checked on his workers. He noticed me, a new comer, an alien, a foreigner and enquired from his staff who I was. It transpired that he was Boaz, a distant relative of Elimelech Naomi’s husband. Boaz invited me to drink water from the shared water bucket, offered me food at the lunch break and encouraged me to continue gleaning in his fields. He promised that I would be safe and remain unmolested from the male workers. There always seemed to be sufficient corn gleanings for me to pick up. By the end of the day I had plenty of grain to grind into flour; plenty to cover the needs of Naomi and myself. For the first time since leaving Moab with Naomi we felt hopeful for our future in Bethlehem. We became recognised members of the community. Though not a Jew I shared their faith and traditions. I hoped and prayed for assimilation into their culture and not just as Naomi’s daughter-in-law but for myself as a person and not a stranger. What would my future be?
(Ruth chapter 4 will conclude Ruth’s story)
Ruth was treated with respect, able to benefit and share from the harvest field. She was a stranger, not a local inhabitant but she was accepted and treated with consideration. Shown compassion, Naomi and Ruth had sufficient food to eat. In the twenty first century many folk still struggle to provide food for themselves and their families; people who have become unemployed because of Covid, the homeless, refugees, Asylum seekers. Being aware of their situations can we help these unknown people? Please think of ways you could show compassion as the Bethlehemites showed compassion to Ruth.
God, at this Harvest time we give thanks for our daily food and commend to you all who are involved in providing it for us. We pray for those in our community who find it difficult to feed their families and rely on Food Banks and free school meals; for the homeless who rely on charities to supply their needs, for those requiring Meals on Wheels. We commend to you all who work for our local food bank and The Methodist Centre and all who benefit from their services. Amen