Readings for 24th Sunday after Pentecost, 11/11/12:
Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17, Psalm 127, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44
Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17:
- The 'love story' between Ruth and Boaz has always been one I've enjoyed, but it is really quite a practical tale: Naomi wants to make sure Ruth's well-being is secure. Do you think it must have been hard for Naomi to find a husband for Ruth in place of her own dead son?
- "uncover his feet" - This is a euphemism for sexual relationship. However, though Ruth makes herself available to Boaz, per Naomi's instructions, Boaz does not apparently take advantage of her. (Check out the verses in between today's sections of text for the rest of the story.)
- The women congratulate Naomi as if the child of Ruth and Boaz is her blood kin, and as if Naomi was the father of Ruth or at least the father of the baby. The role reversals are somewhat strange in this story! Technically, Ruth's child is not Naomi's next-of-kin. But the bond Ruth and Naomi share is deeper than blood perhaps.
- Chris Haslam says that the point of this text is that it is OK for Jews to marry foreigners - God's love is available to all people.
- "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." At a clergy event I attended, one of the speakers talked about the futility of trying to pull vision statements for congregations out of thin air. God sends a vision, he said, and we can embrace it or not, but we can't make up our own. The same with building, growing perhaps. God builds. We can get on board. But God leads. We follow.
- "eating the bread of anxious toil" - what a great and timely phrase. How often do we engage in this behavior? We are anxious people. Is this God's desire for us?
- Sons, sons, sons! Hard for me not to get riled up about all this talk about the value of sons over daughters! I have three brothers, all of whom I dearly love. But I so wanted a sister...one would have done!
- Heaven = the truest sanctuary. Interesting imagery.
- In Hebrews we find the main argument for Christians not continuing to practice the laws of the Old Testament: Jesus' sacrifice is once and for all. If it were not so, the author argues, we would constantly have to re-sacrifice Jesus.
- Still, the author argues, we will see Jesus again, but because Jesus will come "to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." What do you think the author means by this? I think people might typically say that those who are eagerly waiting for Jesus are already "saved", whatever is meant by that. What do you think?
- Jesus talks about the scribes as people pretty impressed with their own status. As a clergyperson, I can't ignore that Jesus' descriptions strike pretty close to home of clergy behavior sometimes!
- "they devour widow's houses" Chris Haslam says "Certain scribes, as legal trustees of a widow’s estate, charged exorbitantly for their services. The fee was usually a part of the estate, but some took the “widows’ houses.”"
- The widow, though giving just a couple of mites, gives the most of what she has. How much of what you have do you give?
- Do you think Jesus was encouraging us to emulate the widow's behavior, or do you think he was disgusted with a system that had her giving all that she had just to serve puffed-up religious types?