Commemoration of Ruth
The Lord be with you
Today, on the LC-MS liturgical calendar, is recognized as the Commemoration of Ruth. In doing so, we are following the liturgical calendar proposed by the 19th century Lutheran scholar Wilhelm Löhe. Löhe was also a key player in the formation of the LC-MS, and is remembered on our calendar January 2.
Ruth of Moab, the subject of the biblical book that bears her name, is an inspiring example of God’s grace. Although she was a Gentile, God made her the great grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:17) and an ancestress of Jesus Himself (Matthew 1:5). A famine in Israel led Elimelech and Naomi of Bethlehem to immigrate to the neighboring nation of Moab with their two sons. The sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth, but after about ten years, Elimelech and his sons died (Ruth 1:1-5). Naomi then decided to return to Bethlehem and urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah listened to Naomi’s advice, but Ruth refused, replying with the stirring words, “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). After Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Boaz, a close relative of Elimelech, agreed to be Ruth’s “redeemer” (Ruth 3:7-13; 4:9-12). He took her as his wife, and Ruth gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:13-17), thus preserving the messianic line. Ruth’s kindness and selfless loyalty toward Naomi and her faith in Naomi’s God have long endeared her to the faithful and redounded to God’s praise for His merciful choice of one so unexpected.
A few lessons we can learn from Ruth (not all of them) include:
• Ruth was a Gentile and did not know the true God until her husband and mother in law shared with her about the real God. Family ties continue to be an important way the Christian Faith is shared.
• Ruth was not just any Gentile but was from Moab. According to Deuteronomy 23:3 “No … Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord,” yet she does. Here we see that God’s grace and forgiveness is greater than any transgress. As the old prayer puts it, God is always more ready to forgive than we are to ask. No one is beyond the grace of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
• Ruth was a Gentile and yet also an ancestor of Jesus. This is a testimony that Christ came for all, not just the physical descendants of Abraham.
Prayer: Faithful God, You promised to preserve Your people and save Your inheritance, using unlikely and unexpected vessels in extending the genealogy that would bring about the birth of Your blessed Son. Give us the loyalty of Ruth and her trust in the one true God, that we, too, might honor You through our submission and respect and be counted among Your chosen people, by the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, who reign together with You, now and forever. Amen.
Other Appropriate Prayer Topics:
• That all in our families may receive God’s grace in Christ Jesus
• That the descendants of Abraham may receive God’s grace in Christ Jesus
• For those who face famine in Africa and elsewhere
• For widows
• For marriages
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert