The Book of Ruth – Old Testament.
I wonder if you’ve ever moved home and gone to live somewhere else.
· Talk about moving (sensitivity needed: children can move house for all sorts of reasons – family breakdown etc.) It can be exciting, but also strange being a new place, having to make new friends. The story I’m going to tell you is about two people who have to move home. It comes from the Old Testament of the Bible.
There was once a woman called Naomi. Naomi came from Israel, but she and her husband had had to leave their home because there wasn’t any food where they lived. They went to a different country called Moab, far from their home. When they got there it was very strange, but they settled down and they had a family – two fine sons. Their sons grew up and married girls who came from that land.
But then a terrible thing happened to Naomi. First her husband got ill and died, then both of her sons died too. There she was, in a land far from her home, with no one to look after her. The only people she really knew were her sons’ wives, but it wasn’t fair to expect them to care for her as she got old. They would probably marry new husbands.
Naomi decided she had better go back to Israel, where she had come from. She’d been away for a long time, but there would surely be relatives there she could stay with. She told her son’s wives that she was going back and started to say goodbye. She hoped they would make a new life for themselves.
But one of them, Ruth, looked very sad at this. “I can’t let you go back to Israel on your own,” she said “I will come with you. Where you go, I will go. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.” And so she left all her family, her home, her friends, and she went with Naomi. It was a long journey, and when they got to the town Naomi had come from – Bethlehem – everything seemed very strange and foreign to her. Naomi hoped that someone from her family would invite them to stay, but no one did. What were they going to do? They needed to eat and they needed somewhere to live.
It was harvest time when they arrived. People were cutting the corn and bringing it in. In those days they didn’t have machines to cut the corn. It was all cut by hand using sharp knives. There was a custom that those who cut the corn shouldn’t cut right up to the edges of the field. If they missed a bit of corn here and there or dropped some, they should leave it. Then people who didn’t have any land of their own, who were poor, could come and pick it up and keep it for themselves. It was called gleaning. Naomi was too old to glean – all that bending down was too hard for her now. But Ruth went straight to the fields to see what she could gather. All day she worked in the hot sun, following the men who were cutting the corn. When dinner time came, and they all stopped, she kept going. While they were eating, the owner of the land, a rich man called Boaz came by to see how they were getting on.
He noticed the young woman working so hard. “Who is that?” he said. “That’s the woman who came from Moab with Naomi. She’s not one of us – she’s a foreigner – and the two of them are on their own here with no one to help them.” Boaz looked at Ruth, working so hard, and he thought she must be very brave and good to have come so far so that Naomi wouldn’t be on her own.
“Make sure you leave her plenty of corn to gather” he told the men, “and make sure you are kind to her and treat her well.”
Day after day Ruth gleaned in the fields, and Boaz watched her. Ruth told Naomi about the man who had been kind to her. Naomi was very happy to hear it because she knew that Boaz was a distant relative of hers as well as being a good man.
After a while Boaz realised that he couldn’t find a better person to marry than Ruth – someone who had shown how loyal and loving she was by the way she looked after Naomi. He and Ruth got married, and they had a son, called Obed.
And the Bible tells us that Obed had a son called Jesse, and Jesse had a son called David. I told you a story about David about a month ago. He was a shepherd boy but he became….(can you remember?)…the king of Israel.
Wasn’t it a good thing that Boaz welcomed Ruth and looked after her. Someone who was a stranger from a foreign land turned out to be really important.
Being somewhere new, or having someone new come to our class, can seem strange sometimes – we don’t like things to change – but we never know what is going to happen. A stranger can turn into a best friend, or teach us something important, or help us in some way. That’s a really good reason to make sure we make new people feel welcome. I
Pray: for all the people who have come new to Seal School this term. For all the new friends we’ve made.