not a clue, as usual

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Heaven’s Child (for Troy)

I wrote this about 15 years ago and always think of it on Good Friday. Here’s an updated version

I tend to think of Mary

as a mother only can

standing on that hillside,

was she questioning your plan?

for You trusted her with your Son

an infant needing care,

then you made her watch him suffer

as her eyes filled with tears.

for that baby was a man now

and the hope at his birth,

had given way to your purpose

a mother’s tears fill the earth.

and did Mary say….

If he can’t be in my arms, I’ll put him in yours.

he was yours from the beginning, mine for just a while.

I held and I rocked him this precious Heaven’s child.

now though you are the Master

a father’s heartbeat I have felt,

and I know you were with Joseph

at the manger as he knelt.

and if Mary cried her tears

at the foot of Calvary,

how much greater was your sorrow

you could have stopped the tragedy.

you could have reached and stilled the hand

of the soldier with the nails

but you let the thing play out

with all the pain that it entails

and did Mary say…

if he can’t be in my arms

then I’ll put him in yours.

he was yours from the beginning

 mine for just a while.

I held him and I rocked him

this precious Heaven’s child

And this child showed us Love

beyond our abilities

the work that He finished

calls us into eternity

The mercy and grace of God

meet us at the cross

You gave all You are

so that I would no longer be lost

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 20:30

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Palms, Cloaks and Rocks Crying Out

Easter has snuck up on me this year. The change from snow covered frozen ground to tulips pushing their tender leaves through the soil just in time for the hungry neighborhood deer to munch.

Gardening tip- plant daffodils, critters don’t like them so they will thrive.

Back to my Easter ramblings. I have been reading the Easter story in the Gospels this week starting with the Triumphal Entry – Palm Sunday. There is so much rich symbolism in this event. Though much if it is lost on the modern reader, those present in Jerusalem that day knew what was happening and responded from the openness or the coldness of their hearts.

It starts with Jesus telling his disciples to get him a donkey to ride into the city on. This would fulfill the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9 announcing His Messianic claims to the Jewish people. It was also a message on a secular level. In those times a king would ride a donkey during peace times but a horse during battle. It makes it all the more poignant to think that Jesus rode that donkey – not just any donkey but a young colt that had never been ridden symbolizing His own purity – into Jerusalem. The people were still thinking in terms of a Messiah who would lead them into battle against Rome but Jesus’s battle to submit for our sakes would be fought and won alone in the Garden of Gethsemane several nights later and the Cross after that. He came in peace and gained the ultimate victory over death. Compare that with Revelation 19:11-16 when He will arrive on a white horse with a sword and the armies of Heaven following Him, ready for the ultimate battle. He will be called “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”.

His disciples put their cloaks on the young colt for Jesus to sit upon. As they entered the city, His followers were joyfully praising God, rousing the whole city to ask, “Who is this?” As more crowds gathered and realization hits them, they threw their own cloaks in the ground and waved palm branches before him. Placing their cloaks on the ground was a way to show submission to a ruling king. Jesus is announcing His Kingship and the people of the city are accepting Him as their King. The palm branches too, are significant. Palms were used to represent victory and were often used as a symbol of Jewish nationalism even appearing on coins and banners. People are joining in the celebration showing homage to Jesus and the victory they expect from the Messiah. They have no idea of what the true victory will look like.

But Jesus does. He knows exactly what He is doing and what will happen.

The Pharisees are not happy with this parade of nationalism right under the noses of the Roman authorities. They tell Jesus to quiet His followers.

He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Luke 19:40

Jesus’ response to them is dripping with meaning for us. He is saying that all creation is made to worship God. We cannot help ourselves but to worship as we come to understand who God is and what His love had done for us. Try to keep someone quiet when they have experienced God’s power in their lives – you cannot! That is what the people of Jerusalem were feeling that day two thousand years ago.

The prophet Habakkuk’s words may have provided a backdrop for Jesus’ words.

“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house,
    to set his nest on high,
    to be safe from the reach of harm!
 You have devised shame for your house
    by cutting off many peoples;
    you have forfeited your life.
 For the stone will cry out from the wall,
    and the beam from the woodwork respond.

“Woe to him who builds a town with blood
    and founds a city on iniquity!

Habakkuk 2:9-12

Habakkuk reminds us that a life built on lies will eventually crumble into dust. We were created to worship God and when we don’t, we feel an emptiness that is hard to identify until someone shines the light of Gospel truth upon our hearts. Only then, when God calls us, can we respond to Him. When we deny God, our souls – that part of us specifically designed to connect with God – will cry out for the intimacy we were created for. When we base our lives on anything other than the truth of Christ, the very fiber of our souls will respond in protest. If Jesus had silenced His followers that day, the rest of creation would have picked up the need to worship their King as He marched towards a victory that they could not even comprehend.

I will be spending some time in the Gospels this week reading through the Easter story from the Triumphal entry to the Resurrection. I will cry and yet be comforted. I will allow myself to get caught up in the most amazing and agonizing story of all time. And I will pray that I too, will throw cloaks and wave palms as I proclaim my King. May we, right along with the rocks, cry out the praise that is often drowned out by our world.

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Is it spring yet?

first flower of spring

Tomorrow is the first day of spring and during a year of covid quarantine, the sight of crocuses has never been more welcome. As I write this, I can still see the remnants of the huge snow piles left in my yard that will be melted by the end of the day. True, this winter wasn’t as desperate as the Donner party stranded in a high mountain pass, but still….

We have dealt with the drama of political turmoil, manipulation of all news sources, lonely Thanksgiving and Christmas without extended family around, several major snow storms last month and the daily isolation that Zoom doesn’t quite satisfy. But now, we have vaccines becoming more available and schools moving to reopen. There is actually a chance that we may get some limited travel in this summer- still masked and hand sanitized of course!

As I look back over this extraordinary year, I think of all the ugly and the beauty that we’ve seen. The blessings and the sacrifices we have made. The fear and devastating losses that families have endured. We saw violence, hate and rage. But we have also seen compassion, neighbors reaching out and shining examples of love. From the street riots and murder to volunteers shopping for those in need, and brave souls still going to blood banks to fill a growing need even though it was risky. Cheers to our grocery store clerks who continued to work and truckers who continued to drive. I loved seeing puzzle, book and toy contactless exchanges spring up in my town.

I am fascinated to look back and see that just a few years before I had been working in a job that I would have been laid off from but made a huge career switch just 6 months before the shut down and was able to work from home. My kids had also been kept employed even though both had been seriously looking at work in fields that have been closed through out the pandemic. My husband’s work is considered essential and kept him employed all year. More importantly we have stayed healthy throughout. I have watched those I care about suffer with this dreaded virus and felt the sting of unemployment hover over us all. There is a definite feeling of turning a welcome corner now with the return of warm sunshine and tiny crocuses poking thru the remaining snow drifts.

Last week at church, I could feel the lightening of spirit in the congregation. Not just the light of daylight savings time but a lightness of attitude in truer smiles and a willingness to stick around and talk. This Easter we have so much to be grateful for and the long dark winter does have an end after all (I was seriously starting to doubt that!).

Thank you, Jesus, for your constant love for us. As we remember what you did for us, may we let go of control of our own lives and learn to trust in you more and more. Thank you for what you are doing today in my life, in my family, in my church. Thank you for what you will do tomorrow and into eternity for your children. Thank you for suffering in my place and yet still walking with me when these temporary, though very real struggles paralyze me with fears and doubts. Thank you my Jesus!

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The Heart of the Matter

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.    1 Samuel 16:7b

Israel needed a new king badly. God sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint a king from among his sons. When Samuel saw the eldest son, Eliab, he was ready with the anointing oil. This young man was tall and handsome, obviously king material. But God told him to keep looking. Don’t get distracted by the exterior- God was looking at hearts. By the next chapter when the army is being taunted by the Philistine champion Goliath, we see why God didn’t choose Eliab. His didn’t have a heart attitude that God could work with. He belittles his brother David when David is only obeying his father and trying to help.

Verses like this show how backward our thinking can be. It reminds us that the LORD looks at our hearts first. He dismisses our outward beauty, success or wealth. God looks at what we love, why we love and who we love. This is the true person. Not their height, eye color or weight. Not their profession, education level or talents. God meets us at a heart level and shows His love for us there.

How about the flip side of this coin? What if the exterior isn’t polished and refined? Would that affect how we react?

I remember one time when I was about 10 years old and my father was hospitalized for many months with a severe stroke that paralyzed his right side and left him unable to speak. We had a neighbor with a teenage son who was always in trouble with local law but it was this kid who came over one day and helped us by taking out the window air conditioner units and doing a few other chores. My mom tried to pay him but he kept refusing. When he left, we found the few dollars that my mother had tried to stuff in his pockets on the kitchen table. “He may have a rough exterior but inside he has a heart of gold”, mom said with a sweet smile on her face. Now I am sure that his mother ordered him to help us and that she forbade him to take any money but he still gets credit for obeying his mom and helping a neighbor. Tough on the outside while having a soft heart inside.

Imagine if God was scared off – if God can be scared off- by our tough exterior. Every time we allow our pridefulness to turn us away from Jesus we show an ugliness that must break God’s heart. Yet, God sets the example of how to love without the prejudice or fear that hinders us. He looks at his sinful creation and loves us anyway. Make no mistake about it, sin is ugly to God. The world has become a twisted version of what God intended because of sin. We have become grotesque, straining under the weight of our own sin. Yet we have a God who sees more than the outward appearance, stained as it is. Only in repentance does Jesus covers our sin with His robe of righteousness, creating the beauty that God sees in us. Whether we appear outwardly beautiful or ugly by the world’s standards, these are things that are of no consequence to God. He sees what we so often fail to see. God sees our hearts ……… and loves us.

Exteriors/ Interiors

Exteriors give us our first impression

But they can be so wrong

Interiors show the heart of the house

True character that can’t be seen from the sidewalk

Exteriors show how to enter

And what the best escape route is

Interiors show us how to stay

And live and love within those walls

God looks at our hearts

And loves the possibilities within

While we may turn aside, turned off

By what is outward, what is first seen

God looks at the heart

I Samuel 16:7b

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Ideas are born to fly

They are not meant to be tethered

To a rock solid earth

They live on outstretched wings

To soar over the mountains of our doubts

Ideas are the light of sunbeams

Refraction will break them into a rainbow of colors

Each more beautiful than the original

With an explosion of new thoughts

Ideas do not recognize boundaries

They do not realize that lines have even been drawn

They cross paths with other ideas

And the crossing makes them grow

We used to gather around new ideas

A moon landing

An experimental surgery

A soldier’s return to peacetime

And ideas that may clash would be voluntarily put aside

They could always be pulled out later for debate

But for that moment of celebration

Such ideas would be put on hold so that we could

Hug and laugh, enjoy a victory or mourn a loss together

Now, it seems that ideas separate us

They are held in higher regard than morals

And thus cannot be let go

Ideas that take on a life of their own

Backing us into corners where we can

Only point fingers, call names and

Cower behind our fears

One day ideas will be free again

Free to soar on majestic winds

Free to multiply and not divide

Free to cross borders

And we will be free again to share words

And not fear retribution

Idea now live within us but

Long to cross swords with a worthy opponent

In debates and discussions from which will spring

New ideas that will soar to even higher heights

Ideas that glitter in sunlight

Sparkling like diamonds

But for now are encased in stony minds

Awaiting the freedoms that ideas are born to thrive in

Ideas can only be stopped by our fears

And all that is born of fear

Things like prejudice and anger and cowardness

While difference will always try to separate us

 ideas can unite us when allowed to grow with the freedom to share and explore

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Seeing Past the Snowdrifts

The Northeast just got clobbered with a major snowstorm dumping over two feet in many places and lasting several days. I have had fun watching the birds at my backyard feeders adapt to this winter wonderland. Flocks of crows– or should I say a “murder of crows”- have been showing up daily trying to snag some of the seed that has fallen in the snow. Since they are too large to perch on the feeders, they are ground feeders. Now the height of the snow has put one feeder that is on a short shepherd’s pole near the top of the snow drift. It is much too close for comfort for the crows. I watched one big boy creep up to the feeder, eyeing the seed that had fallen directly beneath it. The bottom of the feeder is hanging only about a foot over the snow which does not leave enough clearance for the crow to get under it to feed. He has been giving the feeder the side-eye and then quickly jabbing his huge beak into the snow at the seed. I don’t think that I have ever seen a crow so scared before! They are usually the bullies of the feeders but this much snow has completely changed the landscape and left everything in confusion.

Whenever we are forced to look at something familiar from a different perspective, we can feel confused and disoriented too. I have just experienced something like this as the Bible study group that I belong to have been working our way thru passages in the New Testament that describe Heaven. These are the verses that we will sing about on Easter Sunday but otherwise we tend to gloss over them. They force us to look at Heaven from a different perspective. Just as snow can completely transform a landscape and erase old reference points, I am finding that the deeper we go into these verses, the more questions are surfacing.

As we wind up this study, I have found two points that resonate with me.

The first is that Heaven is all about God. If we are honest, this is a complete turnaround from how we normally think of Heaven. I want to focus on the fact that there will be no more sickness, no tears and no death. I long to see loved ones who have preceded me there. But the description that is related from visions given to John, Isaiah and Ezekiel are all centered around the One on the Throne. If we can admit that Heaven is all about God who lives there, then we can start to see how Heaven reflects God’s character and not our wishes. It’s about what He – Jesus – did for us and not what we can do to earn it. The very existence of Heaven shows that God loves us and He wants us with Him. He wants all of us with Him. Not just the really good people, but all of us. That in itself is a stunning thought. The thief on the cross was welcomed. Matthew, the tax collector who cheated his own people was welcomed. The women at the well whose life had not exactly been saintly was welcomed.

If entrance to heaven depended on us, none of us would be allowed to enter. Mercifully, it does not. It all hinges on what Jesus did at the cross and how we accept that. Our golden ticket is in the hands of Christ and because of that, all can enter. Acknowledge Christ as King and watch that realization seep into every phase of your life, changing how you think, how you act and react.

Which leads to the second thing that struck me:

How do you live with Christ as King? Jesus Himself always sets the perfect example for us to follow. No one can doubt that Jesus was completely focused on Heaven and His Father. The goal of His earthly life was to provide a way into Heaven for all of us. He is the only one with the ability to surmount the problem of our sin which currently separates us from God. Yet He was also completely engaged in the present. He loved all the people that He met. His disciples were always telling Him to send the crowds away so they could get some rest but Jesus never did that. He put all His energy into teaching, preaching and healing while in earthly form. We, too, can be completely engaged with our present surroundings, doing whatever God has put before us to do. We can love our neighbor by responding to needs around us. In this way we will find ourselves living lives of humble service. Pray for each other, care for each other, using the gifts that God has given uniquely to you.

In this way we will find ourselves living with a Godly purpose that is anchored in the Godly hope of Heaven. Heaven, where we belong. Heaven, where He lives and reigns.

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Remember Mercy?

As I have watched the news the past few weeks, I have been aching to write some sort of suave commentary. I would love to throw down some pithy political argument, maybe a philosophical reflective piece or at least get a Christian viewpoint out there that doesn’t smack of religiosity.

But the truth is that even with all the thoughts that have been circling each other in my head, I’ve haven’t got anything worthy of putting pen to paper. I honestly wonder if I have anything new to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times already. To make it worse, all these thoughts have me struggling to see just which side of the fence I come down on. The ideology part is simple. I am a conservative Republican because I believe that those principles are best for our country. It’s the people who are fronting those principles that I am having such trouble with. The further we go down this slippery slope the worse the behavior on all sides becomes.

We call each other childish, derogatory names. We attack blindly on social media platforms. We have forgotten how to so something as simple as love one another. We have abandoned mercy.

My Bible study group is working through Revelation and I was hit with a truth last week that stopped me in my tracks. When John gets his first glimpse of Heaven, he records the central figure, God Himself as seated on the throne. I suddenly realized that for all the times that I have read this description in Revelation 4, I was always so obsessed by the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders that I missed all the other things that were surrounding that throne.

First is the rainbow, the symbol of God’s mercy, which encircles the throne. John’s eye is drawn to it. Perhaps because as a humble, sinful person, he could appreciate the fact that Heaven is based on God’s mercy. Godly mercy is the pattern for us to follow. God does not punish us for our sins, Jesus took care of that for us. But how many of us can let go of our right for revenge and payback when we have been grievously hurt? Those from both political parties have been bleeding out for a while now. Can we show mercy to each other as God would have us do? Even if we get stepped on while extending such mercy? Tough question to be sure.

Then he describes the lightning and thunder coming from the throne, reminiscent of Mt Sinai when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Wherever God is, in His home in Heaven or descending to earth on a mountaintop – it becomes Holy Ground. And we see that where ever God is, He is all powerful, omnipotent and Holy. No mistakes, no flaws in God. Our political leaders will cause us to shake our heads but there is no confusion in our Holy God. His rule is absolute. Take comfort in that.

And finally, John describes a sea of glass, clear as crystal that extends out before the throne. The idea of the sea represented chaos to the Hebrews. Yet, here we see chaos smoothed out under God’s feet. God sits in control of the things that seem out of control to us. How many of us needed that reminder today?

As we head into a new presidency, fresh with new ideas and policies that will bring about as much controversary as agreement, remember the Throne Room of Heaven. Picture, with John, who it is that sits there. He who dispenses justice with mercy, love with forgiveness and grace with out payment is in control. Let that example guide us back to a path that the church- our church – has so often strayed from.

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Turning Junk into Art Pt 6

The story of Mary

My Christmas readings for this year are a bit different. I am reading the stories of the women who are listed among the names in the genealogy of Christ in the first chapter of Matthew. A genealogy is the story of a family and the lists found in the first chapters of both Luke and Matthew contain the story of God’s redemption of all mankind. He wants us included in it too.

The last candle of Advent represents the Christ child and is usually lit on Christmas eve or Christmas day. Our last reading this Advent season will center on His birth. While the previous four stories, that of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, may have been difficult to read and even harder to understand, this last lady is the one you have probably been waiting for me to get to and she is the perfect finale for the genealogy.

Read Luke 1:26-56 and 2:1-20

Most are familiar with Mary’s story. She was a young virgin whose example of pure faith and obedience are inspiring. She follows God even when the difficulties seem impossible but God always makes a way for His people. In her story we see faith, hope, love and peace, those four advent candles, come together and culminate in the birth of Jesus.

In Mary we see the obedience that Tamar was lacking, the faith that was just beginning in Rahab, the love for God that Ruth was learning and the courage to tackle a difficult pregnancy alone if need be that Bathsheba lacked. Not to blame these other women for their insufficiencies but rather to see these qualities shine thru a young, untried, poor child from a little town that nothing more than a speck on a Judean hillside. The only difference between Mary and the other women is her remarkable faith that moved mountains and changed a world with the birth of the Messiah. In all of these women, we see God take ugly situations and turn them into His pathway to send Messiah. And He does this every day for us too. He can take all the junk of our lives and in His hands, it can become the most beautiful art. Trust Him to do this for you too.

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Turning Junk into Art Pt 5

The Story of Uriah’s wife- Bathsheba

My Christmas readings for this year are a bit different. I am reading the stories of the women who are listed among the names in the genealogy of Christ in the first chapter of Matthew. The fourth candle lit during Advent season represents Peace.  But Bathsheba lived in a time that was anything but peaceful. Her personal life too was filled with pain and sorrow. We see the promise of peace in verses such as Philippians 4:7 which says, “May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Was she able to comprehend that as she grieved for her first husband and newborn son? We are told that God had sent His Spirit to rest upon her husband King David and with that came the power of the Spirit that enabled him to rule Israel and have a relationship with God characterized by peace, but we don’t know that was true for Bathsheba. Read her story as recorded in 2 Samuel.

Read 2 Samuel 11,  2 Samuel 12: 1-10 and 22-23 (the promise of Heaven)

When we look the stories of the two most prominent men God promised to bring Messiah thru, Judah and David, the part of their stories that lead us to Jesus are the absolute worst parts of their lives. We see them at their most despicable behavior, yet God uses their depravity to redeem all of mankind. There no behavior so low that we cannot repent of and God cannot redeem us from. David’s beautiful song of repentance in Psalm 51 is the counterpoint to this story.

David is generally considered to be a great king but he has a dark side too and we see it here. 2 Samuel 11:1 tells us that it is springtime. This is a time when after planting was done, kings could conscript men to serve in the army for the spring and summer campaigns, though they would have to be back home by fall for harvest season. Israel’s army is engaged with a battle against the Ammonites but David has stayed home instead of leading his army and that is how he gets into trouble. He notices the beautiful Bathsheba and orders her brought to him. Some commentaries consider this a rape rather than consensual since David a is powerful king and Bathsheba’s husband is away and not there to defend her. As the story unfolds, we see that both her and David are considered adulterers by their culture and in God’s eyes. The king, David is not setting the example that God demands of him. He further complicates things by recalling Uriah from battle with the hope that he would go to his wife and therefore think that the child is his. But as a good soldier he refuses any pleasure for himself while his troops are suffering. David then does the unthinkable and arranges Uriah’s death, trying to disguise his evil deeds as a battle death. But God sees all things and sends His prophet Nathan to unveil the truth. Everyone involved is guilty in this story. Bathsheba is a victim of the king’s lust but she also has some responsibility as a willing accomplice once she marries David.

In the genealogy she is only listed as Uriah’s wife because she was still married to Uriah when the affair that set the story in motion happened. As such she is considered an adulterer along with David.

In 2 Samuel 12 we see that the baby born of this affair also dies. A tragic end that probably saved the child from what would have been an equally tragic life. An illegitimate son would have torn the country apart. One touching note is in verses 22 and 23 where David, after mourning the child is able to move forward acknowledging that he will be reunited with his son in Heaven. Also read Psalm 51 to see David’s repentance.

But back to Bathsheba. Is she a victim, adulterer or a bit of both? There is no correct answer here, just the reality that things are not always as black and white as we would like them to be. She may have been coerced into behavior she knew was wrong but then when she found herself pregnant and her husband dead, she had no choice but to turn to the king for help. Whether she is seen as passive or passionate, she is a woman caught in the middle of David’s temptations and unable to extricate herself. Here again, we see that God can take all the junk of our lives, all the mistakes and bad judgement calls, all the ugliness of misguided passions and all the foolishness of mankind and still make beautiful art out of it. From this tangle of lies and deceit, God will continue the line of David leading to Christ thru David and Bathsheba’s second son Solomon who will become the next king of Israel. We see that God is a God of second chances who loves us despite our sinfulness.

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Turning Junk into Art Pt 4

The Story of Ruth

My Christmas readings for this year are a bit different. I am reading the stories of the women who are listed among the names in the genealogy of Christ in the first chapter of Matthew. The second candle lit represents Love. 1 John 4:16 says, ”… God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in him.” Today I am reading through the book of Ruth. J. Vernon MacGee called Ruth the “Gospel of Romance”. It tells the story of a poor widow who finds a second chance at love when she meets Boaz, the owner of a field in Bethlehem where she is scavenging for any grain that is dropped by the harvesters. This story parallels the love that God has for us, poor scavengers that we are. It is the story of Godly redemption beautifully told in human form. It is love at its truest form.

Read through the book of Ruth – all four chapters.

To pick up from last week when we read the story of Rahab, we have now moved forward another 400 years from the battle of Jericho to the time of Ruth who lived during the age of the Judges. When Israel, led by Joshua after Moses’ death, conquered and reclaimed their lands God led the country through judges (or leaders) that God would raise up as needed. Joshua was the first of these leaders. At this point they did not have an earthly king. God was their heavenly King. But, after 400 years, the people of Israel cried out for a king. The prophet Samuel was the last judge and, led by God, he anointed Saul to be the first king. Ruth’s story is at the end of the age of the judges. She will become the great grandmother of King David, continuing the family line of Judah and leading directly to Jesus who would be born 1000 years later.

Things are at their lowest point for Ruth when she enters Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. There’s a lot of junk here – in Naomi’s bitterness towards God in 1:20, in Ruth’s desperate attempt to survive through gleaning, an ancient custom that allowed the very poor to follow harvesters in the fields to pick up whatever grain may be dropped. Into this grim picture enters Boaz, the farm owner who is not just merciful but actually shows love for Ruth though as a foreign-born childless widow, she is far below his social standing.

At this point it is interesting to compare her to Tamar and Rahab from our previous readings. Ruth is a poor, childless widow like Tamar, but her behavior is very different. She is a foreigner, who learns of the Hebrew God thru her husband and his family, noticeably her mother in law Naomi. She, like Rahab, decides to go against her own culture and throw her lot in with Naomi who is heading for an uncertain future in returning to ancestral lands in obedience to God. Ruth is a loyal, loving and obedient woman. She is also brave, caring and determined to survive.

We are starting to see the pattern that God will use the most unlikely people in his family line. Ruth is not of a fine Hebrew family but a Moabite who were looked down upon as a very low-class society by the Israelites. She had married into a Hebrew family that had lost faith when famine hit their land and left without God’s direction to find food. They only find death and disaster and finally Naomi, destitute and desperate returns to Bethlehem hoping to at least die in peace. Yet Ruth finds hope and love when Boaz notices her working in his fields. God always offers hope when we least expect it, and love when we least deserve it. In this case, we will see the kingly line of Christ fulfilled by an outcast widow. In Christ, there is always hope. With God, there is only Love.

Merry Christmas!