Herrenhuter readings for Thursday, the 19th February 2015

Ruth and Boaz

The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. (Rut 2:12 KJV)

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (Eph 2:19 KJV)

In our family the name Ruth is common and very highly respected, favoured and esteemed. Aunts, sisters, nieces bear this honourable name. It stands for faithfulness, loyalty, deep friendship and love.  There are many women, who have shared this name and in their own way bore lifelong witness to the remarkable story about that first Ruth I know way back in the Old Testament of whom Boas gives this memorable testimonial: You have come under the wings of the LORD God of Israel, whom thou hast come to trust.

Ruth – getting married to a refugee, who has fled famine and looked for a better life among foreign people – in exile practically. This included being away from the centre of faith and the temple of the most holy one – the Lord God of Israel. Her husband dies, but Ruth accompanies her mother-in-law back to her homeland, when the time was ripe. I think this does not only speak volumes about Naomi, but also about the deceased husband. Whether he was Mahlon or Chilion – I don’t know – both had gotten married to Orpa and Ruth respectively. Both had died and Ruth, herself a widow as Elimelech had passed away in exile was now left with 2 daughters-in-law. Well, I think that this family must have been great not only at accommodating themselves into the harsh circumstances of fleeing famine and seeking to establish a new home and life far away amongst other people and in new and daunting circumstances, but also in making good friends and getting excellent wives like Orpa and Ruth. The last and most crucial issue however was in my view, that they gave such a compelling witness to the living God of Israel, that Ruth on her part was willing to follow Naomi, leave behind her familiar comfort zone and go live amongst the people of Jehova – trusting his care, providence and good will more than all else she had know so far.

Ruth is not disappointed. She finds a new home, a new husband and becomes by the grace of God and his inscrutable ways – one of the matriarchs and foremothers of our Lord Jesus Christ – one of the great saints of our Church. A women, who was not a Jew, just another poor refugee, but taken good care of by the Father of all and the one, who calls and gathers his children from the ends of the world like a hen calling her chicks to find refuge, comfort and peace under her very wings. God does not forsake those, who trust in him and even if we lose faith, he remains faithful and does, what he has come to do – namely to seek and to find the lost and bring them home – out of exile into the promised land of heaven and paradise. All those, who are baptised and believe in the triune God are “therefore no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God”. That’s how God builds his kingdom, his one holy Christian Church consisting of Jews and those from the heathen nations – calling all and everybody to come in to see and taste, how friendly he – the living God of Israel and the world is. Hallelujah. Amen.

Hail, O Source of Every Blessing by: Basil Woodd (1760-1831)

Hail, O Source of every blessing,
Father of all humankind!
Gentiles now, your grace possessing,
In your courts admission find.
Grateful now we fall before you,
In your Church obtain a place,
See your glory and adore you;
Praise your truth and laud your grace.

Once far off but now invited,
We approach your sacred throne;
In your covenant united,
Reconciled, redeemed, made one.
Now revealed to eastern sages,
See the Star of Mercy shine;
Mystery hid in former ages,
Mystery great of love divine.

Hail, O all inviting Savior!
Gentiles now their offerings bring;
In your temples seek your favor,
Jesus Christ, our Lord and King.
May we, body, soul, and spirit,
Live devoted to your praise,
Glorious realms of bliss inherit,
Grateful anthems ever raise!

Hymn # 84 from Lutheran Worship Author: Neues geistreiches Gesangbuch
Tune: O Durchbrecher aller Banden … 1st Published in: 1704

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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