Even though we have turned our calendars, it doesn’t mean that the pain, hardships or struggles that we have been facing automatically go away. While our hope is that the New Year will bring blessing upon blessing, the truth of the matter is that we will most likely find ourselves wading through some sort of challenge, hardship, tragedy or even loss. Our series, “Beautiful Living in a Broken World” is meant to not only encourage and strengthen us in those times when life is turned upside down and we find ourselves dealing with the realities of life, but invites us to reflect on how we can walk well with others while take care of our own spirits.
+ January 2
Naomi’s husband Elimelech died. Ten years later his two son’s Maholon and Chilion also died, leaving Naomi and her two daughter in Laws facing an unknown future. What made matters worse was that there was a severe famine in the land. In the hopes of finding food, Naomi and her two daughters-in law planned to return from the country of Moab to Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem in Judah. Our reading picks up with a conversation between Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws Ruth and Orpah.
Text: Ruth 1:8-13
Even in her time of loss, Naomi thinks about the welfare and safety of her daughter–in-laws and places their needs even before her own. In this selfless act of love Naomi seeks to support and encourage Ruth and Orpah to find healing, renewal and security even if it means their returning to their family of origin. Sometimes the hardest part of loving is letting go. Yet throughout the story of Ruth, Naomi continues this practice of nurture and advising. Through Naomi’s desire to support and encourage others even in her time of loss, what does it teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
+ January 9
In her grief, Naomi put the needs of her two daughter-in-laws before her own and it’s here that Ruth and Orpah are faced with a choice. They could either return to their own people as Naomi invited them to do, or they could take the journey with Naomi. We pick up in our reading with Orpah and Ruth’s response to their mother-in-law who blessed them and was prepared to send them on their way.
Text: Ruth 1:14-18
When faced with a loss, people experience and cope with it in different ways. Some might have a tendency to become paralyzed or want to leave or ignore the situation, while others may dig in and seek help and care in any way possible. While our tendency may be to think that one may be better than another, they’re just different. Yet there is also the reality that just as we may want to care for others in their time of loss and need, others may feel called to walk with us. What can we learn from the responses of Orpah, Ruth and Naomi on about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
+ January 16
Ruth had just declared her commitment to her mother-in-law—that she would walk alongside her and support her through thick and thin. After leaving Moab, Naomi and Ruth finally arrived in Naomi’s home town of Bethlehem—and as you would imagine, news travels quickly.
Text: Ruth 1:19-21
In today’s reading we hear how Naomi came to grips with the pain that she was experiencing. Naomi didn’t sugarcoat her words or try to present it in such a way that was comfortable for others, but spoke directly to the hurt of her heart. While it may be difficult to share our hurts out loud and name and claim all that weighs on us, perhaps it allows us to begin the healing process. Yet the reality is that Naomi’s story doesn’t end there (and neither does ours) as God’s hand continues to move in her life. What does Naomi’s acknowledgement of her pain and blessing from God teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
+ January 23
According to the law, those harvesting a field would not strip the land bare or reap into the edges of the field, but would leave what had fallen for the poor and the foreigner. As a widow and foreigner, it would have been natural for Ruth to go into a field in order to gather what had fallen to feed herself and her mother-in-law. It just so happened to be the field belonging to Naomi’s kinsman Boaz.
Text: Ruth 2:4-10
Sometimes in life we may find that we are in need and other times we may find that we are blessed. What does it mean to bless someone? What does it mean to be attentive to the needs of others? The kindness of Boaz went beyond a single event and plays out throughout the story of Ruth. In fact, we see his character unfold with each conversation and interaction from his care of Ruth to acting in honesty and integrity. This week we will be looking at the words and actions of Boaz and what they can teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World.