Sunday, August 5
The Steamy Stuff
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
Let’s be honest. This part of Ruth and Boaz’s story is as steamy as an E.L. James novel (think 50 Shades, people). Naomi learns of Boaz’s attention to Ruth and forms a plan. Ruth is to clean up, dress up, and wait for Boaz to get drunk. Then she is to sneak onto the threshing floor (forbidden for women), where she will seduce Boaz, thereby binding him by honor to marry her. The plan works, and Boaz gladly acquiesces to Ruth seduction.
For some reason, it has become popular to make the Bible squeaky clean. We read it like a rule book or a book of saintly examples for us to emulate. But the Bible is neither of those. When I stopped reading the Bible as a book of laws or a puzzle to be solved, and when I started reading it as a storybook filled with people just like me who struggled to figure it all out—it was then that I fell in love with the Bible for the first time.
This summer, before you tackle the dive into the storytelling rhythm of the fall, might be a great opportunity to invite your listeners into the Bible in a brand-new way for many of them. Instead of reading it through the lens of a clean, harmless, saintly rulebook, invite your listeners to read it through a lens of story—theirs, mine, yours—stories of regular people trying to navigate a difficult, perplexing, and often heartbreaking life. It means reading Ruth in all her seductive glory. It means reading David with his adultery and murder. It means reading Solomon with his idol worship and multiple wives. Yes, it even means wrestling with a God that would ask Abraham to murder his son to prove his loyalty.
While it may seem scary to read (and preach) the messy, creative, and human stories, it can also be liberating. It makes God’s people accessible. It makes God accessible. It makes us part of God’s story.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Ruth 3:1-18
Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.”She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.”
So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and he was in a contented mood, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came stealthily and uncovered his feet, and lay down. At midnight the man was startled, and turned over, and there, lying at his feet, was a woman! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant; spread your cloak over your servant, for you are next-of-kin.” He said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter; this last instance of your loyalty is better than the first; you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not be afraid, I will do for you all that you ask, for all the assembly of my people know that you are a worthy woman. But now, though it is true that I am a near kinsman, there is another kinsman more closely related than I. Remain this night, and in the morning, if he will act as next-of-kin for you, good; let him do it. If he is not willing to act as next-of-kin for you, then, as the Lord lives, I will act as next-of-kin for you. Lie down until the morning.”
So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before one person could recognize another; for he said, “It must not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Then he said, “Bring the cloak you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley, and put it on her back; then he went into the city.She came to her mother-in-law, who said, “How did things go with you, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her,saying, “He gave me these six measures of barley, for he said, ‘Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.”