50 | 40 | 10 | Devotions Series: August 5, 2020 – Rev. Renee Splichal Larson

Devotions for the week of: August 5, 2020

Ruth 2:1-13 (NRSV)
Now Naomi had a kinsman on her husband’s side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain, behind someone in whose sight I may find favor.” She said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she went. She came and gleaned in the field behind the reapers. As it happened, she came to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.

Just then Boaz came from Bethlehem. He said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you.” They answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “To whom does this young woman belong?” The servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the Moabite who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please, let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the reapers.’ So she came, and she has been on her feet from early this morning until now, without resting even for a moment.”

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped and follow behind them. I have ordered the young men not to bother you. If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” Then she fell prostrate, with her face to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?”  But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!” Then she said, “May I continue to find favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I am not one of your servants.”

The story of Ruth begins with death. Young and newly widowed, Ruth refuses to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi, who has also lost her husband (and two sons, for that matter). Vulnerable and racked with grief, they make their way to Bethlehem. Can God bring new life after such loss?

Even in grief, one must eat. Determined to provide for herself and Naomi, Ruth goes to the field to glean among the ears of grain. Perhaps she may also catch the eye of one in whom she might find favor? Women have been known to multitask across the centuries!

Her hard work, loyalty, integrity, and determination don’t go unnoticed. Boaz SEES her. Instead of her foreignness being a barrier, or something frowned upon, Boaz acknowledges her courage and servanthood. He gives her safety, food, and bestows upon her a blessing: “May the Lord reward you …”

The Lord does reward Ruth and brings new life to Naomi through her. Ruth and Boaz marry, and have a son.
“The women of the neighborhood give him a name: Obed (Ruth 4.17).”

The story of Ruth ends with life. It is a powerful witness to how God brings new life out of the most devastating circumstances. The birth of Obed does not change the fact that Naomi and Ruth lost their husbands, nor does it communicate that their life now is better than the old. Yet, out of their loss and grief, God gives them refuge and life anew.

Ruth, the foreigner from whom Jesus descends, becomes part of God’s larger narrative. And, Obed “becomes the father of Jesse, the father of David (Ruth 4.17).” Birthed from the commitment of two women to one another, new life and the salvation of the world comes.

Rev. Renee Splichal Larson
Associate to the Bishop, SD Synod

Gracious God, like Ruth, may we continue to find favor in your sight as You bring new life amidst times of loss. You are our refuge, and we are eternally grateful. Amen.

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