From Rev Sue Ann Yarbrough
Those of us who are trying to walk a path of faith have a distinct call. That call is to optimism. This is not a call to ignore the pain and suffering that may be around us. It is, however, a call to trust that God is leading us all. We all have different calls and different ways to serve. May we all use our calls to bring trust and encouragement into this world.
Last week, we learned that both Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, were widows, and in biblical times, widowhood could be precarious. Ruth has decided to return to Bethlehem with Naomi. Naomi has reluctantly agreed because she sees no prospects for either her or her daughter-in-law. Yet, despite her doubts, Naomi is probably grateful for Ruth's company, and in this text, we see that Naomi addresses Ruth as "daughter." This being claimed will play prominently later in the story. Keep in mind that both Naomi and Boaz, the owner of the field where Ruth is gleaning, are from the clan of Elimelek. Such ties were important in biblical times, and those relations could ensure someone's safety.
Here we read of Ruth going out to glean behind the harvesters. In both Leviticus 19:9 and Deuteronomy 24:9, people were instructed to not harvest the whole field, but rather to leave some behind for the poor. What Ruth is doing is quite acceptable and allows her to gather food for Naomi and herself.
We will journey a little further with Ruth and Naomi next week, but for now, let us remember that being claimed is probably important for most of us. At times we, too, have been claimed as a son or daughter, perhaps a husband or wife, maybe even being declared as an employee or or co-worker. Hopefully, there is someone in our life that we claim as a friend. Recognizing these relationships means that we recognize people's value in our lives. We feel a sense of relationship. The good news is that we are all claimed by God, and we, too, can take part in the harvest of that love. God never "unclaims" anyone. We are all related and we all belong. May we grow into that love.
Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, Associate Pastor
San Lorenzo Community Church, United Church of Christ