Week 1 of Ruth
Welcome Everybody by Fischy Music, a song to welcome everyone gathering together – physically or virtually.
Take a few moments to be still, and to remember…
the places you noticed where God prompted you or spoke to you this week
the people you are grateful for or those you are missing this week
the prayers you hold with thanksgiving or offer for hopeful resolution
God is with us in all the places we have been this week, and meets with us in this place.
We can worship God in all kinds of places, and with all kinds of people and with all kinds of prayers and praise. Praise the Lord!
Read Psalm 8 from The New Revised Standard Version
Listen or sing along to How Great Thou Art
Music Maker by Fischy Music, about everything praising God
Almighty God, in these strange times where we are experiencing uncertainty and we know the reality of an ever present threat, we are grateful for the networks of family and friends that we have, and the technological tools that keep us connected in our networks online and by phone especially when we are physically distant.
As we explore the book of Ruth, we are watching the world change with new boundaries for living and we are faced with unfamiliar situations. This week we see…[add own response]
People have engaged in a bizarre kind of harvesting and gleaning – one characterised by gathering and hoarding without due consideration of those who are marginalised but also by generosity of sharing and provision for different kinds of need. We are sorry when…[add own response]
Our world has suddenly begun to look different, with an unfamiliarity that prevents us gathering freely in person but forces us instead to connect in different ways. We celebrate and give thanks for…[add own response]
Loving God, help us to engage for a time through these resources, to hear you in our reading, listening, watching and wondering, and to enjoy conversation with others whether they are beside us in person or across the virtual world. We offer you ourselves – our time, our presence and our open hearts. Amen.
The story of Ruth is a story about God’s interest in our stories! It shares the perspectives of women and gives glimpses into the daily lives of an Israelite family in which God is extraordinarily present. The story of this woman – a destitute poor refuge, seen as unclean to the Hebrew people, and with such little rights – shows that God is on the side of the unjustly marginalised. Dr Tom Greggs says that those on the margins are central to God! As the story of this marginalised woman is revealed, despite being labelled as an outsider, we see she is at the very heart of God’s purposes.
Choose either (1) written with adults and older teenagers in mind, or (2) written with children or intergenerational groups in mind, then respond in prayers of intercession.
(1) Read Ruth Chapter 1 from the Message Version which begins with Once upon a time…
Listen to Dr Tom Greggs as he talks about Ruth Chapter 1:
Dr Rachel Starr says that Ruth Chapter 1 begins with hunger and ends with harvest. It is a chapter of contrasts, and in the struggle against death, life goes on. At home or abroad, there are always strangers, and the possibility of friendship. Even when the bread basket is empty, there is still the chance of companions (those with whom bread is shared). You can read more in the Ruth Magazine.
Questions to ponder… choose one point below to ponder yourself or with others:
- How do our stories begin; what are some of the plot twists, and how do we respond to them?
Can you think of a time where you were marginalised, excluded or treated unjustly because of gender, ethnicity, age or other ‘label’; or perhaps someone close to you? Describe how that felt. How does it feel to know that God is deeply interested in your story?
Where do we see marginalisation in the church? In considering how God sees the marginalised, how might this help us to see with different eyes and/or change our practices?
- What offerings do we make and receive in faith? Naomi offered hope to the young women, and asked God to show them kindness that they would ‘find rest in the home of another husband’.
Can you think of a time when someone offered you something through their prayers or words of encouragement? How were you able to receive that, offered to you in faith?
Can you think of a time you welcomed someone in what you felt might be a sacrifice only to discover it to be a blessing? How were you prompted to offer that opportunity for hospitality or belonging?
- Who are our companions, those with whom we share bread, and with whom we find our way?
Can you think of a time when you were surprised by a person who showed you care and fellowship in life’s journey or even became a friend? Can you describe that story and the emotion you felt?
- How does lament express faith in God?
Can you think of a time, perhaps even in the present time, where you needed to lament – through grief, disappointment or regret. What things have you found helps as you lament (e.g. the Psalms, writing, journaling, singing, painting or other creative form, walking and listening, etc)? How has this helped express faith?
Take time to consider anything that is causing you grief, disappointment or regret at the moment.
May God speak to you however you express that; and comfort you and fill you with peace.
Who might you want to seek out for support as you lament or to stand in lament with at the moment?
- How can we be at the heart of God’s purposes and witness to the extraordinary God we worship?
Can you think of a time when someone who was marginalised demonstrated deep faith in God? For example, a child who was marginalised by others yet spoke deep words of compassion and concern for them. It can be easy to marginalise others or place ourselves above them even without being aware of that.
What can we learn from recollected examples and how can we make space to welcome that witnessing influence?
(2) With children or all ages, watch the whole story of Ruth told in Godly Play style
Questions to ponder…I wonder:
What part of the story you like best?
What part of the story is the most important part?
Where you are in the story or what part of the story is about you?
If there is any part of the story we can leave out and still have all the story you need?
Remember there are ideas for Children and Young People and for Intergenerational groups in the Ruth Magazine on page 18.
Responding to the Word:
Be still for a few moments. As you recall the themes from this chapter of Ruth and hold your thoughts in this stillness, remember those people and situations to bring to God in prayer.
- Perhaps you would like to light a candle (or use an LED candle), or focus on a picture or an object that reminds you of prayer as you do this.
- Perhaps you would like to listen to this song How He loves us as you offer to God your prayers, and focus on the images it paints.
Choose what might be appropriate for you, and help children and young people to choose what they would like to use to witness to the themes from Ruth’s story so far.
- ‘Once upon a time…’
Do you have a favourite story that begins with these words? What do you particularly like about it?
If you were to write your own story of the last few months, what would you include after the opening words ‘Once upon a time…’? What do you hope happens next?
- What and who are you journeying with at the moment?
What have you chosen as something you would like to complete by the end of these weeks in Ruth?
How is that developing? As you reflect on Ruth and on your own journey at the moment, what questions or ideas is that raising for you? What do you feel God is saying to you? How are you capturing this? Who do you need to, or could you, share this with? How can you be available to someone else who may value sharing with you?
- What and who do you notice in the world around you?
> Everyone wants to be noticed!
God notices you and all those we perhaps don’t take the time to acknowledge. We are each fearfully and wonderfully made.
Can you use time this week to notice people well? Whether in your home, through social media, whilst walking the dog, or by using the internet to research those on the margins, consider how you might show them they are noticed and welcomed.
> Everyone needs to be valued!
God values everyone, and those on the margins are central to God. Our stories and experiences, our joys and fears, are important and should find space alongside everyone elses.
Can you find space this week to show someone that their journey, experiences or views are of value?
> Everyone deserves to be honoured!
God sees beyond the labels or differences we see and sees the heart of a person and their deep desires to connect and care and bless others, despite the circumstances around them. Can you find a way this week to show someone that they and their gifts – of service, generosity, faith, help, encouragement, etc – are honoured because their gifts are a blessing to others.
- Who can you ‘build up’ this week?
Using jenga bricks, lego or similar, build a tower as high as you can. How would you feel if someone knocked it down? How many times do you think you would try to build it up again?
Listen to Build Up by Fischy Music and sing along if you can. As the chorus lives with you this week, and you remember the words, think about how you can ‘build’ up someone each day.
Listen to As we go now by Fischy Music, about treasuring one another, and sing along if you can.
Clare of Assisi says: We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become…
This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.
Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road.
Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy,
has always protected you, and loves you as a mother.
Blessed be you, my God, for having created me.
OR Listen and Watch the UK Dance Blessing
You will find Week 2 resources on Ruth on the next page ->