Week of July 12

Remaining in the Season After Pentecost, this Sunday is the Sixth Sunday After Pentecost.  We have many more days until the season changes. Our liturgical color is green.

So much is happening in our country and in this year.  Growing in faith means looking a little deeper.  We continue our series on loving all people of God, with an Old Testament story about people who were different, yet who created a friendship that changed history.

Bible Story: Ruth & Naomi, Summary of Ruth

In a place called Moab there lived a nice family.  Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons moved there because there was more food there than where they used to live.  After a while Elimelech died but Naomi wasn’t alone she still had two sons.  Even though she did not want her sons to marry women from Moab, they fell in love and married.  The people had believed that people from Moab were different and did not follow God.  After about ten years, Naomi’s sons died too.  At least Naomi still had her sons wives to keep her company, their names were Orpah and Ruth.  Even though, they were different from her, Naomi loved them.  Naomi longed to return to Bethlehem and be with her people.

Naomi called her sons wives and told them, “I am going to go back to where I used to live and I would like you also to go back to your family where you used to live.  May God show you kindness as you have showed me.”  All the women cried and hugged each other because they were such good friends.

Orpah didn’t want to leave Naomi but Naomi told her not to worry, she would be fine.  So Orpah left to go back to her family.  But no matter what Naomi said to Ruth, Ruth would not leave.  “Don’t ask me to leave.  Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your friends will be my friends and your God will be my God.”  So Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem together.  The journey was long and hard (they had to walk the whole way.)  Several times, Naomi told Ruth she would return home and marry another. But Ruth wanted to stay with Naomi and make sure she was safe and loved. It was a good thing Ruth went with Naomi because Bethlehem was very far away and Naomi couldn’t have traveled all that way by herself.  Ruth never complains and is a good friend to Naomi.  Ruth was not expecting anything in return, she just wanted to help.

When they got to Bethlehem, they did not have a home or a job, but Ruth did not return to Moab.  She stayed to take care of Naomi.  Ruth decided that she should do some kind of work.  It was harvest time, so she worked in the fields following behind the harvesters and picked up any barley that they had dropped.

The owner of the field came by to greet the harvesters and noticed Ruth in the field.  He asked one of the harvesters who she was.  “She came back from Moab with Naomi, that’s all I know.”  Lucky for Ruth the owner of the field was Boaz, he was a kind man who believed in God.  He had also been related to Elimelech (Naomi’s husband that died).

Boaz went to go talk to Ruth, he said to her, “Don’t go work in any other field but stay here with the other servant girls.  I will make sure you are safe and whenever you are thirsty go and get a drink from the water jars.”  When Ruth heard this, she bowed down to Boaz and asked, “Why are you being so nice to me, I’m not even from here.”

Boaz replied, “I know what you’ve done for Naomi, you left your family and moved to a place you’ve never been.  May the Lord reward you for your kindness.”

Ruth thanked Boaz and continued with her work in the hot sun.  Boaz even ordered his workers to drop extra barley so Ruth could have more for herself.

Ruth took all the barley home and shared what she had with Naomi. Ruth and Boaz fell in love.  They married and everyone was very happy!

Naomi thought she would be left alone, but Ruth said, “No, you are my friend and family.”  Naomi moved in with Ruth and Boaz.  They had a baby and Ruth made Naomi the grandmother.  Ruth, from another land and faith, became the mother of Obed.  Obed became the father of Jesse, who became David’s father.  Ruth was the great-great-great-great-(many great) grandmother of Jesus.

Meditation: Ruth and Naomi had many differences and those differences made others see them in a way that said they should not be friends.  Ruth and Naomi did not listen.  Ruth and Naomi did not let others tell them who they could be friends with or who they could call family.  They let their love for each other develop.  That friendship and love changed those around them.  Ruth, who chose to put Naomi first, led to an event that changed the world in Jesus.

God could have chosen anyone to be the family line of Jesus.  He could have made sure the family he chose were all people from the Jewish family and born believers, but he did not.  He chose someone seen as different, but whose heart was full of love and kindness.

Prayer:  Father, help us to see all people as your family and to love and care for others, the way Ruth and Naomi did.  Help us be loyal and kind to others.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Activities (choose one or more to do during the week):

  • Discussion questions: How do you choose your friends?  What do you like about your friends?  How can you be a good friend?  Can you be friends with those in your family?  Is that different from friends you meet out in the world?  Do you have any friends who are very different than you?  How can you make friends?
  • Outreach/community service response: Make a card or letter for each friend and say what you like about them.  Mail them to your friends.  Pick two people you do not know well, but see regularly and send them a card too.
  •  Activity response: On pieces of paper write down the qualities you like in a friend.  Use it to play a game of charades where everyone has to guess the quality.  Everyday, pull one of the qualities out and everyone try to focus on showing that quality or pointing it out in others.  Talk about the day at dinner.
  •  In-reach response:  using ready to cook bread or make bread from scratch.  As you prepare the bread together talk about bread and the work to make it.  Talk about how we use bread in our church service.  After you cook it together, have butter, honey, peanut butter, jelly and other toppings.  Take turns fixing a slice of the bread for another.  Sharing and helping is joyful with friends and family.
  •  Game response: Reflection Game-One person tries to mimic another as they stand face to face. One person leads. Start with simple things, like imitating hand and leg movements. Then graduate to various mime motions for concepts such as prayer, worship, strength, service, love, and then acceptance.   Now switch and do the opposite of the person you are standing face to face with.  Which is harder?  Spot the differences-https://www.biblewise.com/kids/images/fun/spot_difference_ruth.pdf
  • Flat Jesus activity: Take pictures of Flat Jesus with pictures of your friends.  How does Jesus want you to treat your friends?