Sermonizing This Afternoon at the Square Perk Cafe
I am most often a lectionary preacher--it keeps me connected to the entire Bible--especially the Old Testament and the books of the Bible that most preachers never use as their text for a sermon. Last week and this week passages from the book of Ruth are featured as the Old Testament text. I have taken liberty to do some switching around of the lectionary text. I used the lectionary selection from the gospel of John from All Saints Day, November 1, to preach from last Sunday so this Sunday I am using the lectionary scripture from November 4, Ruth 1:1-18.
Ruth gives us a story of two assertive, strong and capable women. Ruth gives us a story of God powerfully working in these women's lives as they demonstrate their faith in God who never abandons us and is always at work to redeem us and to redeem the world.
Naomi's and Ruth's relationship and story also makes a statement that the rules of our culture or society can be overcome. Our well being and our worth is not about being owned by someone or something. Our well being and our worth is about relationship--our relationship with God--our faith and trust in God to be with us and see us through when we cannot see a way through--our relationship with each other--woman to woman in this story that leads to a marriage relationship that is part of Jesus' family tree of assertive, strong and capable matriarchs.
John C. Holbert, Perkins School of Theology, says:
.. She [Ruth] now utters one of the Bible's greatest speeches, a speech made famous at weddings, both spoken and sung. But because it has been so used, it threatens to be trivialized, its magnificence blunted in the shadow of wedding vows and cakes and white dresses. We must remember the exact context of this speech if we are to recover its wonder. Ruth has been dismissed by Naomi; she plainly is not in any of Naomi's future plans. Yet, she says this:
I will continue to struggle and wrestle with this passage as my sermon comes together to express the path of Naomi "From Bitterness to Blessing."