Sunday, August 12
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
Before this quote became a popular political weapon, it was a proverb from African cultures. It means that a child is not raised by a single household, but by a community. Ruth’s son, Obed, was no exception. According to culture, the son Ruth bore to Boaz was attributed to Naomi, who nursed him as her own child. The community of women named him Obed, celebrating the birth with their sister, Naomi. And Ruth, of course, having borne the child also claims the namesake of the book named after her. (Even though it is really a story about Naomi, who is the first woman named at the beginning of the book, and the last woman named at the end.) The story ends with the genealogy that can be traced to David, whose descendants include Jesus himself.
We seem to live in a culture that values raising kids alone. Sure, we read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” hoping to glean some insight into this terrifying thing called parenthood from people who have been there before us. But when it comes down to it, we don’t really want others to tell us how to parent. And many of us were reluctant to share the secrets of our own parenting styles lest we be judged. I can remember the moment I revealed with a bit of shame that we had a “family bed”—where the kids slept in bed with us all night long. I thought for sure our friends would shower us with a barrage of reasons not to do it. Instead, they all (every single one) admitted they did the same with their kids. For me, it was one of those aha! moments when I realized I really did need the advice and support of my peers. Their affirmation gave me the courage to trust in my own parenting decisions. Now that my kids are young adults—and they are wonderful, amazing, compassionate, creative, thoughtful young adults—I’m glad we raised them the way we did.
If you have young parents in your congregation, encourage them to seek the support of their peers. Maybe even create an environment where young adults can come together and share their hopes, dreams, fears, failures, and successes in parenting. Just how accommodating are you to young families? Do you have changing tables in both the women’s and men’s rooms? Are kids welcome to worship when they are a little noisy, as kids tend to be? Do the pastors greet the kids after worship, or skip over them to greet the parents? Consider how your congregation can be a village for the little ones in your midst. Your congregation will be better for it.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Ruth 4:1-22
No sooner had Boaz gone up to the gate and sat down there than the next-of-kin, of whom Boaz had spoken, came passing by. So Boaz said, “Come over, friend; sit down here.” And he went over and sat down. Then Boaz took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, “Sit down here”; so they sat down. He then said to the next-of-kin, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our kinsman Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it, and say: Buy it in the presence of those sitting here, and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not, tell me, so that I may know; for there is no one prior to you to redeem it, and I come after you.” So he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “The day you acquire the field from the hand of Naomi, you are also acquiring Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead man, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance.” At this, the next-of-kin said, “I cannot redeem it for myself without damaging my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one took off a sandal and gave it to the other; this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the next-of-kin said to Boaz, “Acquire it for yourself,” he took off his sandal.
Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have acquired from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, to be my wife, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance, in order that the name of the dead may not be cut off from his kindred and from the gate of his native place; today you are witnesses.” Then all the people who were at the gate, along with the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you produce children in Ephrathah and bestow a name in Bethlehem; and, through the children that the Lord will give you by this young woman, may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.”Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the descendants of Perez: Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron of Ram, Ram of Amminadab,Amminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon, Salmon of Boaz, Boaz of Obed, Obed of Jesse, and Jesse of David.