Today's Lectionary Text
Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17Naomi 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 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.
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Two different women appear in these Scripture passages today. These two are from different eras in the biblical account. Both of them, though, occupy a step near the bottom of the class ladder in their society. Being a foreigner and a widow placed Ruth near the bottom. In order to have something to eat she gleans fields. As the story here ends, she has moved to a better place through her marriage to Boaz. The widow’s story in Mark’s gospel is much briefer. It is not mentioned where she comes from or where she goes after this incident. Yet clearly, she has very little. Again, she is a widow and a woman. But she offers all she has -- two small coins.
When the woman from Mark offers her money, she puts herself in a very risky position. What will she do now and how will she survive? Ruth chose to move to a foreign place in order to be with Naomi. Thus, she is not alone, but she is an outcast. It must have seemed like she was always teetering on the brink, as if her well-being could quickly vanish.
Both women balanced in a very risky spot, and each chose to give all she had. Jesus makes it clear in Mark that such giving of all we have is our calling. Sounds easy enough. We can donate some canned goods for a food pantry or a few good, clean used toys for a holiday
gift-giving effort. What would it take to bump it up a step? That might mean tackling a task that requires extra effort or that necessitates learning a new skill. What would it look like for you to try something at which you might personally fail, or in which you might appear to be a real bumbler?
Ruth was forced into her position of entering this marriage by her position as a needy foreign widow. We do not know, but it seems unlikely that the Marcan widow was in that place by choice. However, you and I do have a choice. We can opt to not try a new thing, and that is OK. We might not want to exert that extra effort.
Just now, stop for a moment. Quiet your heart and just listen. What do you hear? Where does God need you today? Perhaps it is for a longer time period than just today. Will you need to make a longer commitment? On the other hand, will the longer view mean much of that time will be spent in hands-on learning of necessary skills. You might have to give up a fun pastime to spend that time learning.
-Rev. Dianne Tombaugh
Prayer for Reflection
Sustaining God, give me insight to see the risk, and courage to accept it, so that your kingdom might come closer to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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