Sunday's sermon was from the Book of Ruth. Let's read it again.
Ruth 1:1-18 (NIV)
"1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
6 When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7 With her two daughters-in-law, she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, 'Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.'
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, 'We will go back with you to your people.'
11 But Naomi said, 'Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!'
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
15 'Look,' said Naomi, 'your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.'
16 But Ruth replied, 'Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely if even death separates you and me.'
18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her."
On Sunday, Pastor Lynne spoke about family and how God's definition of family goes beyond blood to the baptismal water that unites us as followers of Jesus. Ruth's words to her mother-in-law, Naomi, communicate a deep love, loyalty, and trust that goes beyond an ordinary relationship. In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus said, "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." He emphasizes that our spiritual family, bound by faith and love, extends beyond blood relations.
As we gather as a church, we are part of a family connected by the living water of Christ and united by the Spirit. Looking around at your church community, do we see brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we love them as deeply as Naomi loved Ruth and desire to see them thrive in their walk with Christ? Do we recognize that the Church extends beyond the physical walls of our congregation and reaches out into the world, where we are called to share the love, grace, and teachings of Christ?
Pastor Lynne connected the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Orpah to our lives, highlighting the choices made by these women and the resulting blessings and provisions from God. In the story, Orpah chooses the more comfortable path, returning to her own family and her familiar life. In contrast, Ruth made a courageous decision to stay with Naomi, which led to her receiving blessings and provision from God.
In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." Here, Jesus challenges us to prioritize obedience and faith over comfort. The question Pastor Lynne posed resonates deeply: What blessings might we be missing because we choose comfort over obedience and faith?
God's Word guides us to see beyond the things of this world and into the Kingdom of Heaven and all that God desires for us. As we look around at our church family, do we see fellow worshippers and acquaintances, or do we see brothers and sisters bonded together in God's mission and united in faith? When we watch the news and the suffering of Christians around the world, do we see foreigners or family?
Continue to pray for the oppressed and suffering; pray they know the love of God.
May you embrace the uncomfortable as God calls you into relationships and endeavors that require obedience and faith, and know that we, the church, join you in praise and celebration when He blesses you and grows you in Christ.