October 29, 2018
Rev. Dr. Rochelle "Shelly" Stackhouse is the Transitional Pastor of First Church of Christ in Hartford.
So she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!’
When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
Who are “your people?” That phrase can be used to refer to those who share the same race, ethnicity or nationality, the same family, neighbors who live nearby, members of clubs or churches among other things. Sometimes the words are used to draw boundaries, as in “they are not our people,” or “stay away from people like that.” All too often in today’s world, the boundaries around who are “our people” draw narrower by the day.
Though these verses from Ruth are often used in weddings, they have nothing to do with marital love or bonds. When Ruth uses the term “your people,” she is talking about her mother-in-law Naomi’s kin or nation. She hails from Moab, Naomi from Judah. Their people had a history of conflict. At this moment of grief and loss for both of these women, however, Ruth chooses to break the boundaries open. She risks going to a place where she may be unwelcome. She risks poverty. She risks the loss of her roots.
She claims oneness with another woman who grieves, Naomi. In solidarity and love, then, she declares that whoever Naomi identifies as “her people,” Ruth will adopt as well. As Jesus did so often, Ruth and Naomi together blast open the question “who is my neighbor?” in favor of love. “Your people will be my people” constitutes one of the most radical statements in all scripture. It seems a miracle that this story was remembered and told; two women without worldly power claiming love as the definition of “my people.” Thanks be to God.
Boundary-less God, when we think we know who our people are, shatter whatever boundaries we construct, again and again, until we know and love our neighbors as ourselves.
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon Congregational Church
West Avon Congregational UCC
Berlin Congregational Church
First Church of Christ Congregational, UCC
First Congregational Church of Bethel
This Week in History:
Oct. 30, 1938 (80 years ago): An adaptation of Orson Welles' science fiction story "War of the Worlds" is broadcast on Columbia Broadcast Stations' evening radio program, causing a nationwide panic as many listeners believed the fictional invasion from Mars to be true. When news of widespread panic reach the CBS studio, Welles went on the air to remind listeners that the story was fiction.
Starting With Scripture: October 29, 2018 , by Rochelle Stackhouse.