Exminster Methodist Church, Main Road, Exminster EX6 8BT
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Minister: Rev Ben Haslam, Telephone (01392) 256716
All services in the church are cancelled at this time
If you are interested in a weekly e- service please send a message to email@example.com
Also you may have a private communion with Reverend Ben via telephone. Please ring him to arrange one.Ruth 4 from Revd Ben Haslam
Here we are at the last chapter of Ruth! I remember someone telling me about a national park in Canada removed all its health and safety signs. You know the kind of thing – ‘Uneven surface’, Deep water’ etc. the number of accidents reported went down, not up. The reason being was that, visitors started thinking for themselves instead of being told what to do and their own brains provided all the health and safety instructions they needed. The book of Ruth is set in a society with little centralised authority governing everyone’s day to day lives, and so, over time, communities developed their own ways of doing business and holding themselves together. We catch in chapter four a fascinating glimpse of a way in which family lands were held together and family names carried on. Kinsman-redeemers were a kind of safety net, ensuring protection in the wider family circle for those who might find themselves vulnerable. There is a persistent myth that unless forced to do so, human beings will not look out for each other. In fact, evidence suggests that when they are not forced to do so, when they are not organised and bossed around from above, the better qualities of our species are allowed to shine. Partly, admittedly, this is self-interest. We realise our need of others, our lack of self-sufficiency and this is often healthy. The advent of Covid-19 to our shores, whilst showing up some individuals in a poor light, has brought out the best in many, many more. Here Boaz, determined to do the honourable thing, summons the nearer kinsman and offers him the chance to marry Ruth and so carry on Elimelech’s family name. He declines, and Boaz takes Ruth’s hand instead.
Thus our story comes to its touching conclusion. Except it doesn’t feel like a conclusion so much as a prelude. The last words of the book are a short genealogy culminating in the famous King David. We know, as the book’s original readers didn’t, that this family tree would one day boast an even more illustrious name – that of Jesus. There is no better illustration of the continuity of scripture. God’s is the guiding hand behind all these disparate characters, with their different personalities, their differing circumstances, living in different eras. By ending the book with this potted family tree, what we might have thought to be simply a sweet tale of ordinary folk suddenly connects to something much larger. The awesome history of God and His people which scripture records includes moments of high drama certainly, but the ordinary stuff of life is not overlooked. But for the list of names at the end, many original readers may perhaps have wondered why they should care about this tale of the travails of two apparently unremarkable women and their helpful relative. I like to think however, that they will have been encouraged to ponder their own lives and heartened to know that it is not beneath God’s notice. More than that, the everyday and seemingly insignificant daily round can be brought into God’s purposes and reverberate into time even after we ourselves are long gone. The things we do and say can have a remarkable afterlife. We don’t have to know the bigger picture to which our lives are providing some of the colours, or brush strokes. God can see to that, and blend the larger and smaller events of our lives onto His great canvas. Our bit is to do as Ruth does – remain faithful and committed with whatever He gives us. Faithfulness is all. Faithfulness is everything.
God bless, Ben