Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 95: Ruth 1-4; Psalm 79; John 14

Where you go, I will go...
It is only a brief respite: Ruth. A book that rests between Judges and I Samuel. It is a small oasis of good news in the midst of the wilderness of drama that is humanity's walk with God from the age of the Patriarchs to the Monarchy.

I wish it were a longer book, so I could abide in its happy ending for a little while longer. But that is not what it is: Ruth is a brief stopover on our longer pilgrimage. Enjoy the story of steadfast love that a daughter-in-law has for her dead husband's mother. Learn from the example of righteousness exhibited by Boaz, who strives to do right by all under the Law. Give thanks that these people who embody all that is right with regard to people living in fidelity to God under the Law point directly to the rise of David, someone we will yearn to get to know shortly as Saul's difficult tenure as Israel's first king falls apart.

Ruth is essential to the continuing narrative of our walk with God, but the lessons learned will only become apparent in retrospect. Down the line, when the time of the Judges ends and the rise of kings heralds a new age for Israel, it will make sense. Even more meaning will come to us when this odd family model bears further fruit in the prominence it takes with regard to Jesus' geneological origins...

It also means a lot to us today...for the Book of Ruth foreshadows a truth that Jesus sought to teach his followers (particularly in John as he begins his farewell discourse to them in the face of his impending Passion: the family we find is God is based not so much on biology but on faith and fidelity. Families are made, cobbled together by people who love and respect God and each other...and even when there is profound drama, families founded and nurtured in such a way wind up abiding in God.

There is a great deal of debate going on right now in our culture about who gets to define what "family values" looks like. Today, looking at Ruth and chapter 14 of John, it would appear that value in a family is found in the steadfastness of God, the faith of people and the willingness to embrace relationships that are always evolving, changing and challenging us to new levels of human respect and forbearance.

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