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Anything New About Ruth?

I am feeling puzzled - not that there's anything new there - about what to 'do' with Ruth when I preach on her in just over a week's time.  Thinking about Tamar and Rahab has already used ideas about God not being constrained by people's willingness or otherwise to get involved and about being on the margins of society.  Ruth does not necessarily offer me much new.  She is a foreigner (tick) a widow (tick) she acts not unlike a prostitute in going to the threshing floor (tick) she becomes an ancestor of Jesus (inevitable tick).

I have discovered that she is usuually preached on within Judaism as part of Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks/Pentecost) which combines harvest festival with the giving of Torah.  She is being preached by Christians using the RCL alongside Mark but I suspect playing second fiddle (don't tell the rampant feminists!).  But I am not too sure where to go with her!  I am tempted to get the whole story read out in lieu of a sermon and simply add a five minute reflection - but is that a cop out?

Do we go for 'Ruth & Boaz' a love story?  Do we go for 'Naomi & Ruth' a case study in inter-generational cross-cultural relationships?  Or what?  Ideas please!!!


  • Eugene Petersen in 'Five Stones for Pastoral Work' talks about Ruth as a small story of insignificant people (refugee and village landowner) hidden away in the great sweep of history. Can't remember his moral, but it struck me a significant in 1999!

    The Brenner (??) series on Feminist Perspectives has a volume on Ruth.

    I could maybe dig out either of these if you wanted to risk placing any hope in my totally non-existent filing sytem.

    Alternatively, Mills and Boon have plagiarised this story so many times I'm surprised King James 1 didn't sue for breach of royal copyright.

  • I did Ruth about a year ago. I rewrote it it was quite good fun with my reasons for choosing the route I took.

    It is here if you are interested:

    (don't know if your comment system will let me post links so I have left it un hyper-linked).

    Tim has some helpful stuff on Ruth:

    Have fun.


  • Thanks Andy and Graham. Plans are now afoot (not a Hebrew foot though, not even a lovely on the mountains one) for the Ruth sermon - which will not mention Boaz's er, appendages.

    Actually 'sermon' is the wrong word as we will have four readings and mini reflections tracking...

    'Life in the raw' - Naomi and Elimelech's economic migrancy and the deaths that follow

    'Making the best of things' - the return home of Naomi with Ruth who takes up gleaning

    'What's a nice girl like you....' - the threshing floor encounter

    'God works in all things' - Ruth the forebear of Jesus.

    Not wildly imaginative or exciting but hopefully a way of seeing beyond the M&B version from Sunday School!

  • Probably a bit late for you - but this was my intro to looking at Ruth http://speechless.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/08/30/hallfold-august-06.html - like you I took the whole story in one go - so the notes didn't translate onto the blog - but I actually found myself exploring our attitudes towards marriage and co-habitation on the basis that there is no biblical model for marriage but rather the faith community has worked with the cultural norms of the society we have found ourselves in and must do the same with cohabitation.

  • Thanks Craig, this sounds MUCH more interesting than what I'm doing with it, but wouldn't quite fit the theme we're allegedly following!! I'll keep it in mind for another occasion.

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