Week 2 of Ruth
May you find peace by Fischy Music, a welcoming or leaving song to gather or say farewell – physically or virtually.
Take a few moments to be still, and to remember the places and people you have encountered this week.
Where did you notice or experience…
people of peace
people of hope
people full of joy
people showing love
people who offered rest
God offers peace, hope, joy, love and rest,
and God greets you in this place.
Sing and shout praises to God!
Read Psalm 100 from The Contemporary English Version
Listen or sing along to Forever (Sing Praise)
or the extended songs Great is Your Faithfulness / O Praise the Name
I’m the only I, You’re the only you by Fischy Music, about remembering our uniqueness and what we bring to one another. Our characteristics and experiences make us ‘us’. Our stories and God’s story connect us.
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.
As we move to Ruth Chapter 2, there is continuity in the themes of oppression and marginalisation but a story of deep and lasting loving kindness in a context of absolute desperation. Ruth is in a dangerous situation and at risk, but Boaz tries to protect her and she knows the loving kindness of God.
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 2 from the Contemporary English Version which begins ‘One day, Ruth said to Naomi…’
Listen to Dr Tom Greggs as he talks about Ruth Chapter 2:
Dr Rachel Starr says that Ruth Chapter 2 is marked by boundary stones, tracing the movements of those bold enough to cross them. It introduces us to a new character – Boaz – and his public encounters with Ruth whilst being shaped by conversations Ruth has at home with Naomi. Its key themes of abundant blessing and belonging are evident. You can read more in the Ruth Magazine.
Questions to ponder… choose one point below to ponder yourself or with others:
- How do we welcome strangers, especially those who are vulnerable, such as seasonal workers or undocumented migrants?
Consider the language of them and us that is used in the world – even in the church – which creates invisible barriers and implies ‘your difference’ excludes you from ‘being us’ or ‘being with us’.
In trying to create safe, open and creative spaces of ‘welcome’ (think about home, church, school, workplace, leisure pursuits, etc) what other things like language do we need to think through so these spaces offer true belonging for all?
What biblical language or passages could you draw on to affirm, challenge or explore notions of difference or sameness? (e.g. separate sheep from goats, neither male nor female)
Try reflecting on some of these passages in relation to the Ruth story and its themes so far.
- What might Ruth have to teach us about seeking justice for ourselves and others?
Consider the current news stories of those treated unjustly and the news coverage or social media campaigns by those speaking out and some personal stories being sharing. E.g. story of George Floyd
What characterises these stories. Compare and contrast with what Ruth’s story might teach us. What do you notice?
- How does our faith in God offer us refuge, and the boldness to step out?
Consider a Psalm that speaks of seeking refuge in God. E.g. Psalm 62 or Psalm 91. Reflect on the words of the psalmist, and on your ideas of finding refuge in God.
Can you recall a story of your own when your faith in God was a refuge? Or when you boldly stepped out in faith?
- How do we seek also ‘to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8)?
Check out the Methodist Website and reflect on information available on the History of Methodism such as Social Justice, and on Methodist Distinctives such as Living a Holy Life and A Covenant with God.
Consider the practical implications of these words from Micah 6:8 and from these elements of Methodism for your everyday life.
- What are you desperate for? Consider this question in your own situation at the moment.
What is this motivating you to do? Are there any risks you need to consider? Who might be a support or encouraging influence for you? Where is God in this situation and how is God speaking to you?
What blessings can you name in your circumstances? How might you devise achievable goals to build on?
(2) Either use the CEV reading above or read this chapter from a family bible or read the whole story from a chosen children’s bible or story book. Then explore these questions with children, young people or all ages gathered.
What words, phrases or images stand out to you?
What part of the story you like best?
Which character interests you most?
Where you see God in the story?
Remember there are ideas for Children and Young People and for Intergenerational groups in the Ruth Magazine on page 19.
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), 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 Breathe (Desperate for You) 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 respond to the themes from Ruth’s story so far.
- Where is your journey taking you?
How are you getting on with the project you are aiming to complete by the end of these weeks in Ruth? Consider sharing progress with creative expression and/or reflections so far. How might the themes from Ruth this week shape how you progress your project?
- Stepping out
As you reflect on Ruth so far, what themes stand out to you? (e.g. exclusion, injustice, etc).
How are you currently being (or could you be) someone with ‘boldness to step out’ as an advocate for others experiencing these issues – either in your family, church, school/workplace, or in the political or global arena?
- Check out Micah68 – a Christian expression of advocacy, friendship, and practical support for the people of the Middle East, and the personal ministry of Ian White who is the Senior Tutor and Short Course Programme Leader at Cliff College.
How could you get involved in a ministry like this? What creative ideas might it give you for mission?
- Listen to ‘We can do good’ by Fischy Music, about blessing those in your neighbourhood.
I wonder what ways you can ‘do good’ in your neighbourhood to bless others and help them feel that they belong?
- Intergenerational Ideas from the Ruth Magazine
• Recognition: sometimes we take the people we live with for granted. Gather together for a meal, pass a ball around the table and each person who has the ball takes a turn to recall a time when another person at the table has done something nice for them and how it made them feel.
• Random acts: sit down together and each write down on tiny pieces of paper things you could do to show someone a ‘random act of kindness’. Put them all in a jar and every day take it in turns to choose a piece of paper and act upon it. It could be a simple ‘Good Morning’ or helping with a chore. How does being kind make you feel? Talk about what happened with your family. How could you continue to show generosity and kindness in the future?
• Neighbours: is there anyone in your neighbourhood who has just moved in? Together, make a ‘New Home’ card for them with a special message from your family. You could even make them a cake or some cookies. How do you think they will respond?
Listen to ‘May you find peace’ by Fischy Music, a gathering or leaving song of blessing.
You will find Week 3 Resources on the next page ->