Uniting Church Sketty and Wesley Church Clydach
‘Worship from Home’ 16 August 2020
This ‘Worship from Home’ has been prepared by Rev Frieder Kreschnak
Part 3 of Bible Month, looking at the Book of Ruth
Coming into the presence of God
Let us focus on our God of love:
Be still, for the presence of the Lord is here
Be still, for the glory of the Lord is shining all around (silent reflection)
Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place (where you are!)
Hymn: Singing the Faith 20 Be still
Sing or pray or read these words or listen here:
Gracious God, we bow in awe before you, because you revealed your splendid glory: you became incarnate, made yourself vulnerable and, in your self-giving love, chose to go into the deepest depths and darkness of human existence. You accepted the cruellest kind of death to give us – eternal – life.
In our many failings we will always be indebted to your generous love. Ashamed of ourselves, we offer you our sincere repentance, the acknowledgement of our need of your forgiveness.
(a time of silence to personalise your own confession and to bring it before God with the assurance that He will cleanse you from any guilt and tear any barrier down between you and Him.)
Lord, we thank and praise you that in your breath-taking resurrection from the grave you buried our sins; fill us afresh with your grace and peace through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Read:- Ruth, chapter 3
We continue with the story of Ruth, moving very close to a climax:
Looking closely, Naomi wasn’t just a poor, vulnerable widow, but also a resourceful, scheming person! She probably had Ruth’s welfare in mind, maybe with some fringe benefits for herself. What was her plan?
She loved shortcuts; so she skipped the next of kin as kinsman redeemer and focused on someone near of kin for the act of redemption. (A kinsman redeemer is the closest relative who would redeem land and restore it to the family. This would be called for when Naomi sold her late husband’s land [we will hear about this next week]. An added twist was that the redemption would also involve Ruth).
So Naomi advised Ruth to doll up like a bride for her wedding; she knew that at barley harvest the labourers would feast at the end of the day. When they were “lubricated” Ruth was to detect the place where Boaz would lay down, sneak under the duvet and let things take their course. It was meant to be a marriage proposal. Once the nocturnal act had been implemented it was “fait accompli”! – Was this a moral and righteous way of attaining a legitimate goal? Ruth and Boaz didn’t see it that way.
Hymn: StF 495, Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Sing or read or pray verse 1 only
Ruth and Boaz followed Naomi’s plan but did it their way! Both were of noble and righteous character. – In a general sense Ruth was asking Boaz for marriage, but her specific request was for him to redeem her. So her main motive wasn’t romance; she followed Naomi’s commands and acted in response to Boaz’s words in chapter 2:12: “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord … under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” She was asking Boaz to be her redeemer. He agreed to settle the matter but in daylight and in the presence of witnesses (chapter 4). He saw Ruth’s noble character and vowed to respond positively to her request. However, he deviated from Naomi’s devious plan and pursued the correct and righteous way: he went to the next of kin to settle the matter and so did not become intimate with Ruth until the matter was resolved properly. No shortcuts here!
To avoid Ruth losing her reputation – and him his! – he made arrangements that Ruth and he, Boaz, would not be seen in the light into which Naomi’s plan could easily have pushed them.
Taking a break from Ruth, I invite you to ask yourself
• Have you ever felt moved to “swim against the tide”?
• If so, in what situation? Why did you do it? What were the consequences?
Naomi’s plan placed Ruth and Boaz into a compromising situation, but both responded in a godly way, so that their characters were evident, and to show that the goal Naomi pursued could be attained by a higher road.
Refusing to take the shortcut, Boaz went straight to the actual next of kin for the redeemer. So he becomes the prototype here of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who in the desert rejected tempting shortcuts to avoid suffering and the cross. Uncompromisingly He chose the righteous path His Father had set out for Him, not only in the desert, but throughout His whole earthly life: He never followed the dictates of His culture, what everyone else did; He never just did what everyone expected from Him, however tempting it may have been to follow the crowd’s expectations and be popular! No, he consistently followed His Father’s ways.
This is the Lord we profess to follow. We, too, may be tempted to swim with the tide (more comfortable; less costly) and may often fail our Lord, but through His indwelling Spirit He enables us to live victoriously in His ways.
Read: Hebrews 4:14-16
This is emphasised in our second reading.
Prayers of intercession and Lord’s Prayer
We pray for –
• all of God’s people to follow faithfully in Christ’s footsteps, even when it’s uncomfortable and costly;
• those without social contact, because of illness or otherwise, to receive healing, comfort and hope;
• the bereaved, that God will minister to them according to their need;
• protection and guidance for all key workers, especially those exposed to covid-19.
Together with our Christian family around the world we pray in our homes: Our Father, …..Amen.
Singing the Faith 555 Jesus, all for Jesus :
Sing, read or pray or listen here:
The love of God, the Father, the grace of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ and the inspiring guidance of the Holy Spirit will be with us and bless us wherever we are. Amen.