Today’s promise passage (Ruth 2:1-13) transports me to the late 70s early 80s in the children’s department of Gashes Creek Baptist church. I was always an awkward young girl, never fitting exactly within any group. Not academic enough to be in with the brainiacs, not athletic enough to fit in with the athletes, not quite social enough to fit in with the popular crowd. At Gashes Creek, however, among the tweens, I found acceptance and love from a group of kids that didn’t mind this awkward, slow, tomboyish girl. It was during that time that I first read the book of Ruth. My best friend Donna and I used to love to write stories. We mostly wrote stories of adventure and romance. I wanted to use these skills to write a play though. I just loved plays. I suppose Ruth got chosen for its brevity. I typed it out, the whole book of Ruth, line by line; stage directions and all. I had not a clue of its meaning but it was a nice story that was easy to put to script. Years later I would hear it quoted again in one of my favorite movies of all time, Fried Green Tomatoes. The character Ruth would send Iggie a letter signaling her that she was ready to leave the abusive relationship she was in with her husband. The message in the letter was cryptic, using the book of Ruth. “Ruth said to Naomi, entreat me not to leave you, wherever you go, I will go. Your people will be my people; My God will be your God.” Iggie came to the rescue and saved Ruth from her destitute circumstances. Years later I found my Iggie or Boaz in a little church of about 30 people, Sweet Fellowship Baptist Church. I was a young adult with broken dreams, I was depressed, I was searching for who I was, I was divorced and at one of the lowest points in my life. I had felt rejected by the church. Again I found myself this awkward young lady with no where to really fit. One morning I stepped into the doors of that little church in Clyde where Rev. Nancy Sehested was the pastor and I immediately was showered with love. In that little place I found refuge, I was given the nourishment I needed to go forward, to heal, and to live.
Such is what Ruth and Naomi found in the field of Boaz. Naomi had previously fled Israel with her family due to lack of food and resources. settled in the Moabite nation where her sons married two Moabite Women, one being Ruth. While there Naomi’s husband and sons all died and she found herself destitute. She remembered the promise of God that widows were to be cared for by their kinsman and she set out on the journey back to Israel. One daughter in law went back to her people, Ruth stayed with Naomi giving those famous words, your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Ruth goes to the fields of Boaz who happened to be her father in law’s kinsman and gleans in the field. This practice of gleaning was to go behind the harvesters picking up what they had picked over or thrown out. Boaz tells the harvesters to keep her safe, He tells them to leave her some good stuff to glean and he tells Ruth that she is welcome in his field and needs not go to any other field. He honors God’s direction to care for the widows. Out of this relationship was born the ancestral line that would bring another kind of kinsman-redeemer—Jesus. In Jesus we find redemption once and for all. In Jesus we find acceptance, radical Love and radical Grace. We are all welcome in God’s field……we need not go anywhere else.
Kelly Dotson is the Founder of My Father’s Eyes Ministries, providing outreach to those who have felt orphaned or abandoned by the church. She is also a member of Longs Chapel United Methodist Church and is a social worker with Buncombe County DSS.