Ruth 1, 1-5
Something to read
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah.
They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there for about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons or her husband.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Have you noticed how human migration appears to be an emotive subject in whatever country you are living?
The story of Ruth reminds us that such movement of people in response to disasters has always been a part of the world scene. It is set in the ‘days when the judges ruled’ (1220-1050 BC), though the account is believed to have been written later.
In these opening five verses there is no mention of God, but Naomi’s husband’s name ‘Elimelech’ actually means ‘God is King’ or ‘My God is King’. This theme of God’s sovereignty will appear later in the chapter and book.
The hills of Moab can be seen from Bethlehem, on the other side of the Dead Sea, so Elimelech and his family’s migration was fairly local; but it was away from the familiar, and in an area historically unfriendly to the Hebrew people (Judges 3:12ff).
When her husband died, Naomi must have felt so unprotected and alone. There was no welfare system for her; the text (v3) says it so succinctly, ‘she was left with her two sons’.
However, there is hope. Her sons marry (v4); but they then die. Naomi has now lost both livelihood (husband) and future (sons), she was ‘left without her two sons and her husband’ (v5).
Today, thousands of migrants across the world know that same vulnerability. How would you feel in their shoes?
Something to do
Select a story similar to Naomi’s from websites such as Christian Aid. Spend time entering into their story by using your imagination. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel?
It is said that until you sit with the disposed and poor you do not appreciate their need.
Something to pray
Pray through the chosen story, pausing to recall
Lord I bring the story of these people’s suffering to you … (pause)
Heal and restore them O Lord …
Lord I bring to you the agencies that are working with them …
May they have wisdom, unending love and perseverance …
May their resources be adequate to meet the needs …
I pray these prayers in the name of Christ our Saviour
Today's contributor is the Rev Frazer Hawkes, a retired Methodist minister