Missional Life - Ruth 2

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Mark 11:1-11 Colossians 1:1-8 Ruth 2:1-12 MaturingSent inOnes faith, love, and hope "Into The Fields" Introduction We are halfway through our four-week series entitled “Missional Life”, asking how we are to live into our Christian identity as a missional church following a missional God—as “ones sent” by God into the world to participate in his reconciliation and restoration. Last week we dove into Acts 2 with the preaching of Larry Schram, marinating there on the truth that with the coming of the Spirit, we are enabled to be missional. This week, with the teaching of Paul Stevens, we look at the narrative of Ruth to encounter there the beginnings of a proper theology of work, recognizing that the church is always in a rhythm of gathering and scattering, as “God sends out the whole people of God on Monday morning.”

Introductory Question: “Church-goer is a vulgar term.” Do you agree or disagree?

Connection Group Study COMMENTARY STUDY

v. 1. The narrator of the Book of Ruth introduces Boaz into Ruth’s story. Note that the Hebrew of the name (‫ )בּ ֹעַ ז‬can be broken down to mean “there is might in him.” In this sense, Boaz’s very name repeats the quality of character described earlier in the verse by “a worthy man,” or a


v. 1. Study: It was not too long ago that we were in Ruth last, in another one of our sermon series, "Displacement"; yet, if you do not remember the main events of Ruth 1— including famine, return, and emptiness— read chapter 1 now.

“man of standing.” The most literal translation of this term ‫ִא ׁיש ּגִבּ וֹר חַ יִל‬ (ish gibor chayil) is “a mighty man or valour” that denotes not only strength and power, but wealth, social standing, and ability.

Meditate: How is the Spirit speaking to you in terms of learning from the model of Boaz—the fullness of which can only be found in Christ—in terms of living as a "man or woman of might" (see commentary note here on the meaning of Boaz’s name)? What has the Spirit been speaking to you in recent months?

Confess: The Hebrew is typically sparse in

Ruth and Naomi Chinese Artist He Qi (heqiart.com)

v. 2. It is Ruth the Maobitess who takes the initiative to glean in the fields of Bethlehem, inclined to find favour from the field owners. So it is that the foreigner is the one who seems to demonstrate a rich understanding of what the Torah (the Jewish law) says about the principles of gleaning, as in Leviticus 19.

setting up the scene, but the introduction here of Boaz suggests a sort of isolation: none of Boaz’s townspeople or Boaz himself have yet come forth to help Naomi, despite the fact that the whole town was speaking about her and that Naomi was clearly in distress (see verses 1:19-20). Confess: In what ways might you have isolated yourself from Christian community in recent weeks?

v. 2. Discern: Read Leviticus 19:9-10 to get a sense of the Old Testament stipulations around gleaning. In what ways is God calling you to “not reap to the very edges of your field”—or, to increase your margins so as to care for others?

Discuss: Why do you think that Ruth went out to glean? Consider this question by putting yourself into Ruth’s perspective at this point in the narrative—not by answering with what we know in terms of how the story ends.

Discuss: How would you describe Ruth’s actions and her character here? What adjectives would you use?

v. 3. Having received

v. 3. Discuss: To be bold enough to take the risk to

Naomi’s blessing, Ruth goes out into the field to glean on the heels of the reapers, where “she happens to come” (or, “as luck would have it she comes”) to Boaz’s field. Note that the Hebrew phrasing here can be used to express situations in which the hand of God guides, by divine providence, events apparently happening by chance.

glean in an unknown field, what might have been Ruth’s understanding of the value of her daily work?

v. 4. As the first words of a

v. 4. Reflect: Do you see yourself as a missionary—as

biblical character are often particularly illuminating as insight into that character’s disposition and personality, here we hear the warmth of Boaz’s greeting—“The Lord be with you!”—and of his character. And, the reapers return the blessing.

vv. 5-7. The narrator once again employs the trademark subtlety of the Naomi-Ruth story, providing no details as to why Boaz noticed Ruth, but building upon the expectation of Boaz and Ruth’s meeting, an expectation already created in this chapter. Yet, the narrator suggests that it is Ruth’s earnestness and hard work.

Discuss: Why do you think the narrator chooses to reiterate here the family relations between Boaz and Elimelech?

Reflect: How has God moved in your life in the past in ways that might appear as the work of chance, but about which time and perspective reveal to be divine providence? Encourage one another with your sharing.

“one sent by God”—to your place of work/study/ retirement, to make known the heart of the words “The Lord be with you!”?

Discern: What might it look like for you to “translate” the blessing of “The Lord be with you” into the language of your place of work/study/retirement? In what ways could you speak/act/demonstrate this blessing unto your coworkers, fellow students, etc.? Ask the Spirit for imagination in this regard.

vv. 5-7. Reflect: If God is sending you out “into the fields” to work/study/live with the earnestness, hard work, and dedication of Ruth—so that you work might participate in God’s redemption in the way that Ruth does in her and Naomi’s story—are there ways that you need to rethink your understanding of work, and how you are sent out by God to live a mission life Monday-Saturday?

vv. 8-9. Boaz addresses Ruth for the first time, speaking with the same kind of kindness that marked his greeting to his reapers. His concern is demonstrated in that he not only refers to Ruth as “my daughter,” but also incorporates Ruth into the young women of his household, and provides the ideal circumstances for her to work well.

v. 10. In encountering the graciousness of Boaz, Ruth has indeed found the favour that she has sought, and yet she wonders how such favour could be poured out unto her, a foreigner. Note here that the author of Ruth is engaging in wordplay as the root for “take notice/notice” is the same of that as “foreigner”: ‫( ָנכַר‬nakar).

vv. 11-12. Boaz responds to Ruth’s question by speaking of her relational commitment to Naomi, including Ruth’s willngness to leave the familiarity of her family and land to care for her mother-inlaw. He then speaks a blessing for God to shelter her in response to all that she has done, and in recognition of God’s character—in a strong sense, then, welcoming Ruth into the people of Israel.

vv. 8-9. Discuss: What does Boaz’s provisions for Ruth’s good work in the fields possibly speak about God’s vision for work?

Pray: Pray for the kindness and generosity of Boaz to mark your interactions in your place of work/study/retirement.

Discern: What would it look like for you and your Connection Group to live into the kindness, generosity, and hospitality of Boaz in your neighbourhood, particularly in the sense of providing drink, companionship, and security to welcome the “Moabite” outsider?

v. 10. Discern: Of whom in your community is God calling you to take notice?

vv. 11-12. Discuss: How does Ruth’s work in the fields, and thus her understanding of work, participate in the redemption of this story?

Pray: Pray for a fully-formed theology of work in your life, especially as it relates to missional living