Read and pray through. Ruth 1-4

Introduction | The Christmas story begins with Jesus’ family tree. And over these next few weeks of Advent, we are looking more closely at the four women highlighted in Jesus’ lineage as recorded by Matthew in his gospel: “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham…” (Matthew 1:1). If you’re new to this devotional, we encourage you to read the Introduction to this series that explains both the structure and purpose of Matthew’s genealogy. The overall focus of this devotional is addressed as well. You can find the Introduction to this devotional series by clicking here.

Reflection | I love a good story. A little drama, some character development and a solid ending and I’m hooked!  My favorite stories lead me into a larger narrative that exists before and continues after.  This is, in part, why I enjoy studying scripture as it gives me the opportunity to step back and look at the bigger narrative that God is writing. I love to see the story as a tapestry woven with the thread of a thousand lives. There is no better time to appreciate God’s story than the season of Advent as we anticipate God’s presence on earth. Ruth’s life is a chapter in this story, a scene in the tapestry that starts out grey and ends in a bloom of new dawn.

When we meet Ruth, we immediately learn two things about her, first that she is already a widow and second that was married to a Judean man, an Israelite from the Tribe of Judah, the son of Elimelek.  As a Judean her husband is the descendant of Abraham. Ruth however is a Moabite, a descendant of Lot. (Genesis 19:30-38) The hope of continuing their line is dashed when three wives are widowed, left alone and childless. They have no means to support themselves and no place to belong. They must have felt so hopeless. When Ruth chooses to stay with Naomi, she is choosing to live as an Israelite widow, abandoning her past and faithfully walking into a future that is uncertain.

I have no doubt that this is a difficult transition but Ruth presses forward, following Naomi’s lead on how to survive as a widow in Israelite society.  Here is where her story starts to change, you can see in the way that Naomi begins to hope for a future. Hope for restoration. This story that started in exile, loss and hopelessness ends with the hope that comes with new life. A new life for Ruth as the wife of Boaz, but also in literal new life as she gives birth to a son. That son is Obed, who will become the grandfather of King David making Ruth the great grandmother of King David and a direct ancestor a Jesus’s earthly family.

This story ends with Ruth, a Moabite, becoming a branch grafted into God’s chosen line. Interestingly, there is no mention of God in the Book of Ruth. We can infer that He is working behind the scenes, similar to the time of silence before the birth of Christ. This is always a good reminder to me that silence does not indicate absence. Just like in Ruth’s life, God is still weaving my story, even when I cannot feel the pull on any thread.

For many of us, this year has been a time where God has seemed silent. Where the pain of loss and the fear of what is to come has overwhelmed our hearts. In times like this we can look to the stories of the saints that have come before us, like Ruth, to remind us that God’s silence is not absence. God is with us. This is why we celebrate Christmas, because God is with us, Emmanuel.  May we feel the peace of God this Advent season.

Consider & Discuss | How has God surprised you by showing up when you felt hopeless? What do you do when you feel like you can’t see God working? How can you remind yourself, or others of God’s faithfulness in the midst of loss?

Prayer Focus | Jesus, as we step into the Advent season may we remember that you came to give us hope and to redeem us. Allow us to see you moving in our lives and let us be reminded that you are with us. May we feel at home in your presence and feel the welcoming embrace of your family as we reflect on the birth of your son. Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Lisa Bari