Monthly Archives: January 2011

What is needing to be born in you today?

Ruth 4:11, 13     [11] Then all the people who were at the gate, along with the elders, said, “We are witnesses.  May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel…”   [13] So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife.  When they came together, the LORD made her conceive, and she bore a son.

For Naomi and for Ruth, the legacy of a child gave  life.  For Ruth it is literally new life of a child.  But for Naomi it is new life metaphorically.  We know in the text the LORD makes Ruth conceive new life.  I wonder where the LORD makes Naomi conceive new life?  I wonder where the LORD is conceiving new life in us?

For certainly this is not a message just for women, the ones who conceive new life within.  I believe we all conceive new life within: beginning a new project at work, beginning a new painting, planning a surprise.  It is that place within us drawing at us until it gets our attention and pulls us to the very core, the very core of what is being born within us.  It is this very place Christ meets us in new life, being born within us.

What is needing to be born in you today?

How is God at work in this conception?

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Full Reward


Ruth 2:11-12  [11] [Boaz said to Ruth:] “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  [12] May the LORD reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!”

REWARD!

I am struck by the blessing of reward in this text.

When do we tend to offer rewards?

For a lost dog.

For information we need.

Something that is precious to us that is now gone.  Yes, something lost that needs to be found.  And we don’t know where it is, so we post signs, REWARD!  But if we happen to find it ourselves, do we give ourselves the reward?  Or even more out there, does someone else give us a reward for finding what we lost?  How about finding something we never knew we had?

The other thing that strikes me about the blessing of reward is that there is reward, and there is full reward.  There seems to be some distinction between the two, as if a double blessing.  Be blessed with the reward from God and may this reward make you full,complete, whole.  May the piece missing in you be completed.  Perhaps this is the true refuge we seek in God:  the blessing of wholeness, completeness, fullness that results from a blessing of reward.

May I be the first to give you a blessing of reward today.  May you be blessed with glimpses of God as you seek refuge in God today.  And, may this blessing be a full reward so that you may feel a moment of wholeness within you.

[For those following the Ruth study, I did not post this earlier by mistake.  So this is a bit out of order, sorry.]

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Holding the Space

Last Thursday evening, the third year DASD class prepared and held a candlelight labyrinth walk for the first and second year classes.  It was an amazing experience.  I remembered fondly the evening walk when I was a first year student, seeing the brightness of the stars peeking through the lapses in the fog.  My second year was the rainy year…no labyrinth.  This year was our year to prepare and hold the space.

This is what I noticed:

One candle breaks the stillness of the dark.

Too much light concentrated in areas makes it more difficult to see the path in the dark.

Balance of the light was the key.

Praying for those on their way to the journey creates space to hold.

Holding space for those on the journey is just as holy as being on the labyrinth.

If you can’t see the path, you can still get to the center.

Shadows dance in candlelight.

Surely this dance was choreographed by the Holy One.

The moon rising over the labyrinth slowed our breath as we gazed with wonder.

The dance was complete.

I wonder, how will you dance tonight?

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Today, you are witnesses…

Ruth 4:9-10  [9] Then Boaz said to the elders and to the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have acquired from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.  [10] I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahon, to be my wife, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance, in order that the dead may not be cut off from his kindred and from the gate of his native place; today you are witnesses.”

Pay attention to repetition.  Pay attention to repetition.

Today you are witnesses.  Today you are witnesses.

Pay attention to placement.

Bookends.  Boaz opens and closes, “Today you are witnesses.”

Getting beyond the control issues Boaz might have, there is rich blessing in the blending of family.  There is rich blessing in community.  There is rich blessing in healthy possession.  After all, we were created to be in community, to be embraced among peoples.    Even in the midst of selfish desires like those of  Boaz, there is blessing to be harvested.

What blessing is being harvested in you?

What unexpected blessing are you witnessing?

In your daily routine today, where might you witness this blessing?  For today, you are witnesses!!

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Finding a place

Ruth 2:5-9 [5] Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “To whom does this young woman belong?”  [6] The servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the Moabite who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. [7] She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the reapers.’ So she came, and she has been on her feet from early this morning until now, without resting even for a moment.”[8] Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.  [9] Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped, and follow behind them.  I have ordered the young men not to bother you.  If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.”


Desires make us vulnerable.

First we must understand what the desire actually is.  For sometimes we fill ourselves with easy answers instead of getting to the root of the real desire.

Here in Ruth it strikes me the idea of thirst is the real desire here.  But it is not thirst for water as one might expect after gleaning in the fields all day.  Ruth is seeking a place of favor.  Boaz is seeking, well…Ruth.  The thirsts/desires of Ruth and Boaz are deep, vulnerable places.

Making these thirsts/desires known makes us vulnerable.  Because immediately we find the next step is, “What am I to do with this thirst/desire?”  Reading scripture several verses as at a time allows us to slow down and contemplate the first question…without jumping to the second.

So first, what desire is God calling you to make known?  And to whom?

Trust that God will hold on to the second question until you have made known the desire.

Shalom

 



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First words

Ruth 2:3-4       [3] So [Ruth] went.  She came and gleaned in the field behind the reapers.  As it happened, she came to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimech.  [4] Just then Boaz came from Bethlehem.  He said to the reapers, “YHWH be with you.”  They answered, “YHWH bless you.”

I can imagine a world where our first word to one another is a blessing.

I can imagine a world where our first thought is, ” How can I help you?”

I can imagine a world where our first action is loving one another.

I can imagine a world where our first taste is the fruit of the Spirit.

I can imagine a world where our first smell is being of the world.

I can imagine a world where all people feel like beloved children of God.

May you see a glimpse of this world today.

Shalom

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Affirming God’s Desire

Ruth 2:1-2 [1] Now Naomi had a kinsman on her husband’s side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.  [2] And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain, behind someone in whose sight I might find favor.”  [Naomi] said to her, “Go my daughter.”

I am struck by Ruth’s courage to encounter a new community, a new field, a new culture, a new people…alone.  And in her seeking in this new place she might be found in favor.

And I am struck that she has also the courage to bring this thought and feeling to Naomi, a trusted family member, to affirm her desire.  And she waits for this affirmation before she acts upon her desire.  “Go my daughter,” says Naomi.

As we spent our entire first class here at SFTS working on the Social Discernment Cycle [BethLiebert is the real queen of discernment!!], I notice here with Ruth a critical aspect of finding a tentative answer [gleaning in the fields to find favor of one] and affirming the answer with a trusted advisor [Go my daughter] in community.

This affirmation in communnity helps in the discernment question, “Is this desire of God?”

May God grant us the patience to be diligent and courageous in the process of discernment.

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Beginning the harvest…

Ruth 1:20-22    [20] She said to them, “Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty had dealt bitterly with me.  [21] I went away full, but YHWH has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when YHWH has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”[22] So Naomi returned together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who came back with her from the country of Moab.  They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Naomi is empty, but the field is full, ready for harvest.  I am struck by the times I am immersed in an event, but my heart is not in it.  I make a commitment and attend because it is the right thing to do, but I would rather be at home with my family or taking a walk or working on my sermon.  And the barley is ready and must be harvested now before the rains come and spoil the crop.

In theses times where my longing is to be somewhere else, God’s provision is clear and present.  The reason for my presence becomes clear,  although sometimes not until the next day or week…

Just as the barley needs to be harvested, so is our need to trust in God’s timing and seek the grain in the present moment.

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Much needed rest…

After a week of class, spiritual direction in small groups, lots of self-reflection, and dorm life, Saturday was a day of much-needed rest.  I took a taxi to Tiburon for the afternoon.  The beauty was breathtaking.  The Golden Gate Bridge to my right.  Downtown San Francisco on my left.  And, there must have been 500 sail boats in between.  The clarity of the day was refreshing for the rest I needed.  I was not at the best location to take this picture as I was looking into the sun.  But you can get the idea.

While the space was wide-open and radiating, the day was close and intimate for me.  I met some wonderful people.  I heard lots of laughter.  I soaked up the sun that penetrated me.  The warmth was quite restorative.  I try to capture the calmness of the day so I might draw on the beauty after I return a the very different Texas landscape.

 

 

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Freedom!!

Ruth 1:16-17 [16] But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. [17] Where you die, I will die—there I will be buried. May the YHWH do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”

 

Freedom.  Ruth will not be bound by another.  She freely chooses to be with Naomi.  She is open to change and something new.  She demands change and something new.  Freedom.

Not just freedom, but spiritual freedom.  For we can so easily be free outwardly and bound inwardly.  Ruth says, “Don’t press me.  Let me follow.”  There is a multi-layered meaning of freedom Ruth displays here which is captured in spiritual freedom.

First is the freedom from something.  For Ruth it is freedom from the old way, the old god, the old culture.

Second is freedom in something. For Ruth this is freedom in the path.  Ruth says, “May YHWH do thus and so to me.”  It is a personal journey, a personal path.

Third is freedom to something.  For Ruth it is freedom to follow and obey YHWH.  Naomi is her model, but YHWH is the one she follows.

Freedom from bondage.  Freedom in discerning the path.  Freedom to obey God.

Trust that God is doing something new in your life.

What do you need to let go of to be able to hear what God is saying?

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