Reflection for the Tenth Sunday of Trinity 2020
The Truth that Lies in Fairy Tales
Although we now see fairy tales as a form of entertainment for children, deep inside, if we look closely enough, we can see something of the hopes and aspirations of all humans. Wouldn’t it be amazing to find an object like a magic lamp that gave us access to power and meant that we’d never have to worry again? How incredible it would be to have a fairy godmother who could transform insignificant things to items of value – or even transform a character out of the humdrum of everyday life to be a valued and esteemed person.
One of the most repeated themes is the arrival of a rescuer. The Sleeping Beauty is awakened from her permanent slumber by the kiss of a prince who has broken through a wall of thorns. Belle rescues the Beast from a curse. Rapunzel brings Eugene back to life.
Ruth is also one of those stories. This story, however, is no fairy tale, but an account of the life of a real woman, in Israel, in the late Bronze Age.
Tragedy in Ruth’s Life
Ruth is a woman who has been widowed. So also have her mother-in-law Naomi, and her sister-in-law, Orpah. In 1100 B.C., being without a male relative meant fear, insecurity, and hopeless uncertainty. Furthermore, they are desperate for food and decide to seek help in the ancestral village of Bethlehem. Problem: Ruth is an alien. Although some help is on hand in Israel, she is from the neighbouring, non-Jewish land of Moab. She knows little of Jewish culture, and has worshipped the gods of Moab. For Naomi, this depth of suffering has turned her bitter, and she declares to all that the Almighty has done this to them. Yet, out of sheer faithfulness to Naomi, Ruth makes the LORD her God, and resolves to stick with her mother-in-law.
Ruth finds a Rescuer
There’s an old Pentecostal chorus that sings:
“Cover me, cover me.
“Extend the border of thy mantle over me.
“Because thou art my nearest kinsman.
“Cover me, cover me, cover me.”
This is Ruth’s song. Because of their poverty, Ruth is allowed to “glean” for her and Naomi. This means gathering the grain from the untouched corners of the field. Here, she meets the owner, Boaz, who loves her, and realises he is a GOEL – a relative of Naomi and Ruth and has responsibility for them.
Boaz, extends his coat over her, the symbolic gesture that he will take her, and Naomi, under his protection.
In Colossians chapter 1, with great joy, Paul writes these words:
“He has rescued us from the control of darkness and brought us safe under the protection of His beloved Son (1.13).”
Surely, at some point, Paul must have seen Jesus as our Boaz, our Goel, our rescuer, who, even now, meets us at the point of desperation, who, today, extends His garment to cover us, and protect us, and whispers the words: I will never leave you nor forsake you.
I don’t Deserve a Rescuer
After discovering the truth about God’s rescue, Luther faithfully told his church about the Lord’s free gift of forgiveness, and how Jesus asks for nothing, save that we put our complete trust in Him. Imagine his horror when one of the congregation began, excitedly, to tell of a travelling Dominican Friar who, with the authority of the Pope, was granting forgiveness of sins – if you put money in his box! What’s more, many members of the church expressed interest!
No matter what they had read in the Bible, or what they heard preached, the congregation was still in the gravitational pull of needing to earn or pay for God’s rescue. There is a learned logic that you don’t get anything for nothing – but glory to God, it’s not His logic! His undeserved rescue is a mystery; the great hymn writer Charles Wesley expresses it this way:
“He came from above,
Our curse to remove, He hath loved, He hath loved us,
because He would love. Love moved Him to die, and on this we rely,
He hath loved, He hath loved us, we cannot tell why.”
Lord, I put my simple, childlike trust in You.
Rescue me, and continue to deliver me from all danger,
That I might live to tell others of the Rescuer who is love.
In the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.