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Weekly worship: Sunday 11 November

Committed to a purpose: points for sermons and prayers for Sunday 11 November.

Palestinian Syrian refugee Helen holding up her baby boy.

Helen is a Palestinian Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. She is married to Wassim and they have a baby boy called Mohammad, pictured here.

Ruth 3:1-5 and 4:13-17

The book of Ruth in the bible rightfully suggests that Ruth is the main character in the unfolding events that begin with the deaths of all the men in their family. This coupled with famine in the land provide for very difficult times for the three widows.

When challenged to go back and begin life afresh in her motherland, Ruth vehemently declines to go back to her land and chooses to join her mother-in-law in a foreign land. However, there may be more to her mother-in-law than we often refer to. Could it be that the key and vital person in this narrative may well be Naomi?

When Naomi returned to her land of birth with Ruth, she was not obliged to her daughter-in-law, yet she took it upon herself to care for her and give her cover in this foreign land. It was enough that Naomi was vulnerable returning after all those years married in a foreign land, but Ruth was even more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Her mother-in-law carefully guided and instructed her in what to do in these circumstances where she lacked the experience of a totally new culture. But it also took a willing and teachable heart for Ruth to respond to the wisdom of Naomi.

Her response to her instructions were:

‘She said to her, ‘All that you tell me I will do.’ So she went down to the threshing-floor and did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her.’ Ruth 3:5-6

Naomi demonstrates to us a solidarity with her daughter-in-law that is exceptional. As the scripture suggests, she did more than help her find a husband according to the customs of the place and time. When Ruth gave birth to a baby boy, Naomi is mentioned as the primary caregiver to her daughter-in-law’s child. Naomi responded to the circumstances of a vulnerable young woman by providing cover and guidance.

The world is filled with many people like Ruth – people who are lost and vulnerable to abuse of all sorts. These are mainly women and children who live in poverty. But even for those who live a comfortable life, the story of Naomi and her daughters-in-law shows how easily circumstances can change in a person’s life even with the safety nets in place. These three women lost their husbands, their homes and their identity.

What the world needs are people like Naomi – those who are willing to look beyond their circumstances, whether good or bad and stand by the weak and vulnerable. What this world needs are people who will become a voice for the voiceless and a guide in the darkness. And who knows what the result of your intervention could be?

We are privileged to know the end from the beginning – that Ruth’s baby, whom Naomi nurtured as she would her own son, would be a significant part in the lineage of David the greatest King of Israel and of Jesus himself who would be the saviour of the world. 

This week’s pointers have been provided by Bob Kikuyu, Christian Aid’s senior theology advisor and church partnerships co-ordinator.

Prayer

Lord help us in faith to stand in prayer with the many who are vulnerable in this world.

But also help us to be sensitive to the one who you may bring our way and who may need our hand to guide or our voice to speak so that they may find direction to a better future.

We can do this secure in your word which says in Ephesians 2:10 that we are your workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which you prepared in advance for us to do.

Points for prayer

Give thanks for Will Aid in November and for the difference legacy donations have made to Christian Aid’s work around the world. Over the years, Will Aid has raised an amazing £18m for the vital work of the nine Will Aid charities, changing lives in the UK and around the world – praise God!

Prayer points taken from the prayer diary which you can read in full here.