Last night at ImBible Study we began reading the book of Ruth.
It was even better than I had hoped. I will admit, I love comparing notes, insights, and experiences with people from different backgrounds, perspectives, and generations.
I learn something every week.
Chapter 1 of Ruth can be a little discouraging. Things are not going well for our main characters. Naomi and Ruth are strong in the midst of some terrible trials. Last night, however, was oddly encouraging and uplifting.
We talked about different levels of relationships and different kinds of devotions. We talked about marginalized communities and the longing to find a connection point in the story. We talked about the temptation to assign God the blame for our pain and suffering.
The final verse of chapter 1 ends on an up-note: after a time of famine there is a barley harvest in the poetically named town of Bethlehem (literally: house of bread).
I shared a resource with the group from Phyllis Trible [link]. I was really struck by this powerful quote:
In scene one (1:1–22) Ruth emerges in tension with her culture. She marries outside her own people, disavows the solidarity of her family, abandons her national identity, and renounces her religious affiliation. In the entire biblical epic of Israel, only Abraham approaches this radicalness, but then he had a call from God (Gen, 12:1–3) and also a wife. Ruth stands alone, without support human or divine. Moreover, she reverses sexual allegiance. A young woman commits herself to an old woman in a world where life depends upon men.
I have been thinking about the faith of Naomi and of Ruth all morning. I can’t wait to see what unfolds in act 2!