Evening Prayer: Feb. 26th (Combo post)

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Psalms: 137, 144, 104
Old Testament: Ruth 4:1-17
New Testament: 2 Cor 4:13-5:10
Gospel: Matt 6:1-6
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a commentary on Ecclesiastes of St. Gregory of Agrigenteum

[Blessed be the LORD]….for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, [who has now borne a son] (Ruth 4:15)

Children–particularly male children– were extremely important in the ancient world. They were the ones who would inherit wealth and act as the main earner of income as adults.

Saying that Ruth is worth more than seven sons…what an incredible statement to make. Not only does it highlight the loyalty between the two women, but it flies in the face of virtually every social convention of that period.

I think it serves as an example for us too. In our relationships–both familial and friendly–we are called to be supportive and uplifting. Notice that supportive and uplifting does not mean warm and fuzzy; at least not all the time :).

Naomi advises Ruth to do some pretty challenging and self-debasing actions in order to secure her daughter-in-laws well-being and livelihood. It’s not easy to swallow that kind of advice, but Ruth places her trust both in God and Naomi that things will work out.

We need those kinds of people in our lives too. People who keep it real, and value us more than seven sons. I hope and pray that such individuals make themselves known and felt in your life.+

Evening Prayer: Feb. 25th

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Psalms: 140, 142, 141, 143
Old Testament: Ruth 3:1-18
New Testament: 2 Cor 4:1-12
Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from St. Gregory of Argentium’s Commentary on Ecclesiasties.

‘My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you (Ruth 3:1)

In today’s continuation of Ruth’s journey…we see a reversal of roles. First it was Ruth taking care of Naomi; going out into the fields as a beggar to find food. Now Naomi is the one who takes the intiative.

Being older, Naomi is wise to the ways of the world, and wants to make sure that her daughter-in-law is provided for and loved by Boaz.

To do this she suggests that Ruth cover his feet while on the threshing floor….which is a sign both of kinship and intamacy.

While there is some debate among scholars as to whether something happened that night, it makes little difference to the main point of the story.

The book of Ruth–as I’ve mentioned previosuly–is a book primarily concerned with ethical behaviour. A story where fidelity and charity are upheld as the most important virtues.

Even if Boaz and Ruth were intimate, he still wishes to protect her honour and openly acknowledges that someone with closer blood-ties may have a closer marriage claim based on Levitical law.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again….I wonder what would happen if we took our sense of duty so seriously??? +

Evening Prayer: Feb. 23rd (Combo post)

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Psalms: 119:145-176, 128, 129, 130
Old Testament: Ruth 2:1-13
New Testament: 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:17
Gospel: Matthew 5:21-26
Patristic reading: An excerpt from a letter about the martyrdom of St. Polycarp.

Since this is a combo post….I want to cover two things…..both of which I think are super important for understanding the Gospel message as a whole.

First off, I want to continue our journey with Ruth…..

Here in Chapter 2, Ruth is now settled in Judea with her mother-in-law Naomi…Ruth sets to work the wheat fields as a poor peasant. This imagery is not to suggest that she is working for wages….but rather that she is destitute and poor…having to hope that Boaz (the owner of the field) has heeded the words of the Torah not to reap the fields completely, but to leave some for the widow, the orphan and the resident alien.

The very fact that Ruth is able to find food speaks volumes about Boaz’s character, and his commitment that all should have access to food and drink…

This goodwill is augmented when Boaz extends the invitation for Ruth to gather wheat with his entourage rather than by herself. That way, she is able to feed herself and have access to water all day long; as well as to gather some food for Naomi.

I wonder what would happen if we were all so generous???

And the second thing I wanted to highlight tonight comes from the Gospel.

Ever wonder why we share/give the kiss of peace at Eucharist??? Sure it’s nice to shake the hands of friends, family and fellow parishoners……but it’s not just about being polite and cordial:

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister* has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,* and then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5:23-24)

If anything, the peace is something which forces us to make contact with those people we would much rather avoid. The peace is not so much about maintaining the status quo as it is encouraging reconciliation between those who might not be getting along. This happens right before the Eucharist so that both parties can go to the table of the LORD in love and a clear conscience toward God and their neighbour.

May we all strive to be at peace with one another and to provide our brothers and sisters with food, water, and spiritual healing as the situation calls for :D. Amen +

Morning Prayer: Feb. 22nd

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Psalms: 121, 122, 123
Old Testament: Ruth 1:15-22
New Testament: 2 Corinthians 1:12-22

Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!’ (Ruth 1:16b-17)

In this astonishing speech, Ruth reaffirms her commitment and love for Naomi…but there is something else going on here…something much more subtle, and probably more recognizable by the contemporary Jewish audience who first read this story.

The Book of Ruth is unique in the Biblical canon in that it focuses on the outsider. Together with the Book of Jonah, it is not simply a tale of intrigue and ethics, but of conversion.

Ruth’s declaration that Naomi’s people shall be hers, and that she will henceforth worship YHWH is a move away from her polytheistic Moabite religion.

In the ancient world, to change religion was not only to change one’s mind about the nature of metaphysics, but it it ran the risk of leaving your family, society, and culture of origin.

This is not the first time we have seen such action. In Genesis 15, a young Abram was asked by the LORD to get up and leave Ur….to forsake his ties to the world he had known and to embark on a new journey…with little more than a promise to go off of.

Ruth is doing the same thing here….and she follows up her declaration with an oath. The whole “may thus and thus be done to me” is an echo of the language surrounding a covenant sacrifice.

In a covenant sacrifice…the two parties of a contract would cut up various animals on an altar and then walk between the dead carcasses. The message: “May I be like these dead animals if I break the promises I have made with you today.”

I wonder what would happen if we took even half of our words and commitment to others with this kind of seriousness. My guess is people would be much more hesitant to make promises they can’t keep…and we might have a little more honesty in the world.+

Morning Prayer: Feb. 21st

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Psalm: 106:1-18
Old Testament: Ruth 1:1-14
New Testament: 2 Cor 1:1-11

Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:11)

Today we start the story of Ruth; a Gentile Moabite woman who eventually becomes the great-grandmother of King David. The story itself explores the question of fidelity and proper moral behaviour.

This morning, we are introduced to Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi who are travelling together back to Judah in the hopes of escaping a famine.

Prior to starting this trek, all three women had been part of a happy family. Now they find themselves destitute, grief stricken and starving.

This is a story about women who support each other and do everything possible to ensure the safety and well being of the other. As the next few days progress, let us read and learn+

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