Monday, May 29, 2006

Ruth and Naomi: Part II

When Ruth returns from Moab to Bethlahem with Naomi, she goes out to glean in the fields (Ruth 2:1-8). For two women with no husbands or sons, this was the only way they could get food, short of prostitution. God had made a law allowing the poor to glean from the fields of others. Not all the landowners followed this very closely though.

Ruth finds herself gleaning in a field belonging to a man named Boaz, who was related to Naomi's late husband. When Boaz learns that his kinsman’s widow is in need, he immediately acts to meet that need. Boaz tells her not to bother going to any other field to glean. He ensures Ruth that she is welcome and ought to think of herself as one who truly belongs there, and gives her a place among his people.

This is the kind of missions we need to get involved with as a Church. So often we look to find some organization that is giving to some huge and worthy cause, mostly because we can’t figure out how else to serve others. Yet we often overlook the needs of those close to us, in our own communities. Boaz returned to Bethlehem and immediately noticed the circumstances of someone nearby and enquires to find out what it is exactly that she needs and he meets that need, making her feel welcome and elevating her status, doing all he can to make her feel comfortable and reassured in spite of her humble circumstances. She feels accepted and embraced.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Modern vs. Postmodern

In modern culture the sea posed danger and created the need for an anchor--something stable and secure. If you don't believe me, just read your hymnal.

If the Modern Era was a rage for order, regulation, stability, singularity, and fixity, the Postmodern Era is a rage for chaos, uncertainty, otherness, openness, multiplicity, and change.
-Leonard Sweet

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ruth: Part I

I just started working ever so slowly through the book of Ruth. In fact I’m only on verse sixteen of chapter one. I’m struggling with my languages, pretending like I know Hebrew and Greek. I like tormenting myself with translation though, because I walk through like a child, learning to connect words for the first time, and I actually begin to see those words. In the first sixteen verses I am taken with the relationship between Ruth and Naomi. Naomi tells her daughter-in-laws to go back to their people (the Moabites). Naomi’s husband, as well as her two sons, the husbands of these daughters, died. Naomi was old, and not fit for remarriage, or at least she saw it that way. She had nothing to offer these girls. They were young and could still find husbands, and Naomi tells them to cash-in on this. Orpah returns not only to her people, but to their gods, severing the relationship not only with Naomi, but between herself and ultimately Yahweh. Ruth on the other hand refuses to leave Naomi. She declares, “where you lodge, I will lodge…your God [is] my God, your people [are] my people.” The Hebrew word used translates, “she cleaved” to Naomi. The Greek says she “followed” (though it is the same word used by Jesus when he calls the disciples to “follow” him). I like the Hebrew though because it shows the intimacy and paints a picture.

The story got me thinking about the Church community. How we too share at least two things in common. We worship the same God. This is unique, because the greater majority of the world does not worship Yahweh. It is an intimate thing to worship the same God. Secondly, we are part of the same community. Your people are my people, and my people are your people. Ruth, though a Moabite, from a people who worshiped the god Chemosh (among others), takes Yahweh for her God, forsakes her Moabite heritage, and identifies with this unique community. As the story will later tell, she is accepted into this community, and becomes the great-grandmother of David, who is an ancestor to Christ. Yet it is her relationship with Naomi that impresses me most right now. It shows me something about how I ought to relate and belong within this body of people called the Church.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Beyond Belief

The Church must begin to move to a place which is beyond belief. We can no longer solely define our faith based on a set of doctrinal statements. I pray for the day when it will be absurd to say such a thing as, “I’m Baptist,” or “I’m Methodist.” A day when saying, “I’m a follower of Christ” will mean something again, and no further defining will be necessary. When this simple statement will immediately bring a response of shared unity, without question.
To move beyond belief is to move toward a relational and missional faith. A faith which is alive and active, embraces, shares, explores, ponders, smiles, and listens. It is more concerned with knowing the person next to us than knowing the meaning of TULIP. It does not follow the “Roman’s Road,” but shares the life journey, and expresses Christ through intimacy, vulnerability, and reliability in relationship. It struggles, rejoices, questions, laughs, and cries together.
Christianity is a shared meal, with both God and humanity. It does not merely believe that Christ was resurrected, but shares in that resurrected life together and today. It is beyond belief.