Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ruth 1:6-18: The Choice of Love in the Face of Lament and Death + Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Whither Thou Goest (Ruth and Naomi)" by Sandy Freckleton Gagon

Liturgy for Saturday, June 18, 2016 Service | Book of Ruth Sermon Series Part 2

Links to Previous Sermon Notes, Songs, Liturgies, and Call to Worship in Honor of the Victims of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. (One-Year Anniversary) in Charleston and the Pulse Club in Orlando:

Ruth Part 1: In the Days of Judges and Famine, Our God of Love is Still Here 
A Call to Worship for Saturday, June 18, 2016 in Mourning with Pulse Families in Orlando and Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Families in Charleston

Artwork Explanation

I felt that the imagery of the journey of Ruth and Naomi to Bethlehem was deeply symbolic of the journey each of us must take in mortality. In the painting, Ruth, in the extremity of adversity with Naomi, reaches up and covers them both with her cloak, just as Christ blankets each of us. In Aramaic, the word atone means “to embrace.” I am grateful for that grace. The Lord intends everything in the Old Testament to bring us to Christ. As our goal in life is to “come unto Christ and be perfected in him,” the Old Testament becomes precious and invaluable. The embrace of Naomi by Ruth is a beautiful image of having our Savior take us in his embrace and declare that we belong to him.  Regardless of the difficulties we encounter in remaining faithful, we must remember that Jesus Christ will not fail to honor His covenant with us.  He will gather us to Himself as Ruth covenanted with and cared for Naomi, and as Boaz covenanted with and cared for Ruth. In Isaiah 49:15-16, He eloquently states: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands.” 

+ Sandy Freckleton Gagon, "Whither Thou Goest (Ruth and Naomi)"

From Famine to Feast | Ruth 1:6-18 | The Choice of Love in the Face of Lament and Death

1:6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited His people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law. 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. + Ruth 1:6-18

Key Quotes:

It’s boring when my life is more like the Book of Ruth than Exodus. I’ve never seen the parting of an ocean or a cloud by day or pillar by night. It’s just the normal every day working of life where things that suck royally is evidence of His royalty. Scratch your temples. It’s so deep it’s simple. Silly us. Ignore the plain, we prefer a riddle. Dying to see a miracle while holding God’s diary.” + Propaganda, “Symbols and Signs

Scripture is a vast tapestry of God’s creating, saving, and blessing ways in the world. The great names and stories can be intimidating. We may begin to think “Surely there is no way that I can have any significant part on such a stage.” But the story of the widowed, impoverished, alien Ruth is proof to the contrary. She is the inconsequential outsider whose life turns out to be essential for telling the complete story of God’s ways among us. The outsider Ruth was not born into the faith and felt no natural part of it – like many of us. But she came to find herself gathered into the story and given a quiet and obscure part that proved critical to the way everything turned out. + Eugene Peterson, The Message Study Bible

Ruth has made Yahweh and His people in His land the center of her life because Naomi pleads with her to return with Orpah ‘to her people and her gods.’ Ruth’s response is not a spur-of-the-moment, romantic promise, but a studied commitment to YHWH. Ruth has done hesed with YHWH before she does hesed with Naomi. That’s how it works. Faith comes before love. She has a deep understanding of YHWH’s call. If Ruth returns to Moab and the worship of Kemosh after Naomi’s death, then her commitment to YHWH would be empty, shallow, just for the sake of human love. But Ruth puts God, not love, at the center of her love for Naomi. The form of her poem, with God at the Center, mirrors the shape of her heart. She doesn’t idolize love. She worships God and learns how to embody His love. Ruth’s commitment to Naomi foreshadows Jesus’s call to his disciples to forsake all, including renouncing family ties, for the sake of the Kingdom (Matthew 10:37). + Paul Miller, A Loving Life in a World of Broken Relationships

(Bilquis Sheikh) raised her head and looked at me directly: "Forget I am a Muslim. Forget the problems we have with Jesus being called the Son of God. Forget about our believing that the Bible has been changed. Just tell me one thing: What has Jesus done for you?" "O God," I cried out in my heart, "why have You sent Begum Sheikh to me when I am dry in my soul? Why didn't You send her to someone who is on top spiritually, someone who could share out of strength, not out of spiritual weakness, as I am experiencing?" But at that moment I knew that God had sent Begum Sheikh to me for my own need. Deeply awed and humbled, I reached out once again to Him. "O Lord, pour into me, so that what I share with Begum Sheikh will have come from You." + Synnove Mitchell, I Dared to Call Him Father

As an ethnic minority widow, Ruth is choosing to be sexually vulnerable and unfulfilled; without money she is financially destitute; without a friend, she is lonely; without her country, she is open to prejudice. She has no protector, husband, tribe, family, or food. And she is shouldering the responsibilities of Naomi. Ruth is one gutsy lady. Vulnerability is part of the cost of hesed. Love carries risk. … Hesed is the opposite of the spirit of our age, which says we can act on our feelings. Hesed says, “No, you act on your commitments. The feelings will follow. Love like this is unbalanced, uneven. There is nothing fair about this kind of love. But commitment-love lies at the heart of Christianity. + Paul Miller, A Loving Life in a World of Broken Relationships

Prayers of Confession

God and neighbor, I confess my mixed motives.
Help the fruit of my efforts to be beautiful and just.

God and neighbor, I confess that I'm tempted to contribute
in ways that make me feel best, not that help most. Help me to slow down to serve my neighbor in the best way possible.

God and neighbor, I confess I want to be seen as good. 
Free me to do what is good.

God and neighbor, I confess that I claim too much credit. 
Grow my humility and show me how to rightly give credit to others.

God and neighbor, I confess I'm sometimes empty of compassion.
Renew me in the deep gladness of the call to work for justice.

God and neighbor, I confess the privileges that benefit me.
Help me to give them away again and again.

God and neighbor, I confess that I have caused pain of, and
am hurt by, injustice. 
Help me to participate in healing for others and myself.

God and neighbor, I confess  my hope is in You and in Your

Eucharist | Thanking God for Communion with Christ and His Church

Heidelberg  Catechism Q&A 1 | 1563 A.D.

Q: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Let Justice Roll
By Sojourn Worship

2015 A.D.

Forgive us Lord, for passing by
When children cry for bread.
Forbid it Lord, that justice lie 
In tatters, cold and dead.
Outside these walls run desperate streets 
Where greed is law and life is cheap.
We bar the doors, refuse to see, 
Or hear the words You said:

Let justice roll like a river, like a river, let it roll!
Let justice roll like a river, like a river, let it roll!

Convict us Lord, we dance and laugh 
Ignoring those who weep.
Correct us Lord, our golden calf
Has lulled our hearts to sleep.
The gap between the rich and poor
Grows ever wider, shore to shore.
There’s racial hate, religious war
And wolves among the sheep. 

(Repeat Chorus)

Indwell us Lord, and purify
Our hands to work for You.
Enlist us Lord, to serve nearby
And ʻcross the waters, too.
Your image-bearers on the earth
Will never know how much theyʼre worth
Unless we love and help them first 
And show the way to You!

(Repeat Chorus) 

Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate. Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing river. + Amos 5:14-15, 24

By Austin Stone Worship
2013 A.D.

God, I need You, 
I need You, I need You,
With every breath, 
every pulse of my heart.
Christ have mercy, have mercy, 
Let mercy abound,
I need You, I need You now.  

God, pour out Your grace, 
Glorious grace
That we would be held b
Your perfect embrace!
We are undeserving, 
You are high and worthy,
All of our praise 
For this glorious grace! 

God we're longing, 
We're longing to see You,
In Your presence 
All darkness will fade.
Shine Your glory, Your glory, 
Let glory surround,
We're longing to see You now.

(Repeat chorus)

God, Your grace 
Like rising seas 
Has swallowed death 
And sin in me!
Glory to our God who saves, 
Jesus Christ, our glorious grace!

God we worship, we worship,
We worship You
For Your glory, our all in all.
You are worthy, You’re worthy,
You’re worthy,
We worship, we worship You.
God we need You,
We need You now.

Nothing I Hold Onto (Climb This Mountain)
By United Pursuit Band
2010 A.D.

I lean not on
My own understanding,
My life is in the hands
Of the Maker of Heaven.

I give it all to You, God, 
Trusting that You'll make
Something beautiful out of me!

I will climb this mountain 
With my hands wide open,
I will climb this mountain
With my hands wide open!

There is nothing I hold on to,
There is nothing I hold on to,
There is nothing I hold on to,
There is nothing I hold on to!

Show me the wonders of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes. Praise be to the Lord, for He showed me the wonders of His love when I was in a city under siege. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, to Him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. + Psalm 17:7, 31:21, 107:8, 136:4

Lord, I Need You
By Chris Tomlin
2011 A.D.

Lord, I come, I confess,
Bowing here I find my rest.
Without You I fall apart.
You're the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You,
Every hour I need You;
My one defense,
My righteousness,

Oh God, how I need You!

Where sin runs deep, 
Your grace is more.
Where grace is found is
Where You are.

And where You are, 
Lord, I am free,
Holiness is Christ in me!

(Repeat Chorus)

Teach my song to rise to You.
When temptation comes my way,
And when I cannot stand, I'll fall on You.
Jesus, You're my hope and stay.

(Repeat Chorus

The Rock Won't Move
By Vertical Church Band
2013 A.D.

When the ground beneath my feet gives way, 
And I hear the sound of crashing waves,
All my world is washing out to sea.
I'm hidden safe in the God who never moves,
Holding fast to the promise of the truth
That You are holding tighter still to me.

The Rock won't move and His Word is strong,
The Rock won't move and His love can't be undone!
The Rock won't move and His word is strong,
The Rock won't move and His love can't be undone,
The Rock of our Salvation!

My hope is in the promise of Your blood,

My support within the raging flood,
Even in the tempest, I can sing!
I'm hidden safe in the God who never moves,
Holding fast to the promise of Your truth
That You are holding tighter still to me!

(Chorus repeat)

Woah, woah, woah,
The Rock of our salvation!

On Christ the Solid Rock we stand,

All other ground is sinking sand,
The Rock won't move, the Rock won't move!
When darkness seems to hide His face,
We rest on His unchanging grace,
The Rock won't move, the Rock won't move!

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." + Jesus (Matthew 7:24-25)

By Thomas Ken
1674 A.D.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below!
Praise Him above ye heavenly host!
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!


May God bless you so you may deeply know that blessing and bless others.

May God keep you so as you know God's embrace you then reach out to embrace others.

May God's face shine upon you so you may experience with others the warm light of creating together with God.

May God be gracious to you so our practices of justice don't feel like rules but like freedom and joy.

May God's face turn to you so you know you aren't left to do this alone.

May God give you peace so step by step we practice moving together toward the flourishing of God's Kingdom.


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