St Andrew Lutheran Church 
4420 Center Point Rd NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
(319) 393-4021
www.standrewlutheran.org
PENTECOST VII
July 12, 2015
 
"It's All in the Family"
 
     But Ruth said, "Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you!  Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die, I will die -- there will I be buried.  May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!"          Ruth 1:16-17
 
     Summer travels, weekends, and vacation times often involve visiting family, possibly attending a family reunion or a special occasion that ends up being the equivalent of a reunion.  These times can be great opportunities for the generations to share family stories, whether they're history, genealogy, or the funny stories that get remembered when people get together.
    
When we turn to the Old Testament and the Book of Ruth, we find a timeless family story, which relates experiences of loss, of loyalty and dedication, and how some distantly related people forged a solid bond of relationship.  Does that sound like any families you know?

     My Lutheran Study Bible explains and gives some insight into the circumstances of the lives of one family.  Naomi, her husband and two sons had moved from their home in Judah to Moab because of a famine.  When all three of these men die, leaving three widows behind, Naomi decides to return to her homeland, and her daughter-in-law, Ruth is determined to stay by the side of the woman she loves like a mother.  She is willing to take the risk of going to a place where she will be a foreigner, an outsider, not even a Jew.  Naomi tries to discourage her, but she perseveres, and the two women eke out a meager living in the area around Bethlehem.

     Please read the whole story -- there are only four chapters (five pages in my Bible) to learn how God worked in the lives of these people, how a relative of Naomi's (Boaz) meets Ruth and recognizes her fine qualities.  They marry and give birth to a baby boy, and Naomi once again has a family.  These ancestors of Israel are a seemingly disparate little group -- a widow, her foreign daughter-in-law, and a wealthy farmer. However, there's an interesting twist on this family history.  Ruth and Boaz's son is named Obed, who became the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of David, the great King of Israel and to whom Jesus' family traced their lineage.

      Once again, God uses ordinary people to be an important part of extraordinary events.  We have the perspective of history, as we see these generations traced through time, and we need to remember God is still using his people for his purposes.

     As we seek to follow God's will for us, whether in our immediate and extended families, or as part of our church family, we have the opportunity to express generosity, support and commitment to one another, witnessing the love of Christ to all the world.
 
Your friend in Christ,
Mary Rogers

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