Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. Are you in your comfort zone? Do you awaken each day knowing that you are secure and happy? Not everyone is so blessed. Some people are facing insurmountable pressures of their jobs, the death of loved ones who had served as their anchors, or the unsurety of what each new day held for them. In this week’s scripture in the book of Ruth, we see where the death of a husband and sons put the Naomi in a situation of grave proportion. In the biblical culture of her story, Naomi has no property, no family, and no future to count on where she can survive.
But her daughter-in-law, Ruth, makes a sacrificial decision to stay by her mother-in-law’s side to offer a potentially hopeful future. “Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god.” These words in the book of Ruth have always spoken to my heart. There is such a sign of strength against adversity in this statement of compassion and loyalty. These are words of commitment, devotion, faithfulness, and self-sacrifice. With whom do you pledge such loyalty and commitment?
I am a transplant from the Midwest. I left behind my parents, my sister, my cousins, my community – everything that I had in my life up to age 21, and I moved from the midwestern culture and farmlands of Illinois to the dense metropolis of our nation’s capital. In our wedding vows, my husband and I recited this scripture from Ruth. It was part of our pledge together. But it was quite evident to me that I was the one who was moving. My husband had settled in the area before me, and he was established. I entered his world. Met his friends. Attended the church where he was already settled. I say this only because it really hit me after a few weeks - nothing here was mine. Have you experienced such a drastic move?
How do you go about becoming part of a new community? For one thing, you need to find people with whom you share something. That is where the Community of Christ was important – a church family. I view this expansive family as a rock on which to stand. There were always friends, fellowship, and new challenging responsibilities. It is an expanded family. How has your faith community provided for you?
Ruth made a strong commitment when she decided to go with her mother-in-law Naomi to Naomi’s homeland. Ruth sacrificed her own security and well-being to follow Naomi because she knew her mother-in-law was facing a bleak future with no husband or family to care for her. Have you committed to something or someone where the benefit was purely for someone else and not yourself?
In my life and in the lives of my children, I have experienced and witnessed commitment to stick with someone through tough times. What an amazing experience when you come out the other side. It may take a while – a long and tumultuous while. As I made my way through heartaches and times of brokenness, I learned that faith gave me strength to keep moving. With faith came undefined hope. And with that faith, God delivered blessings I hadn’t foreseen. When has faith helped you hang on and given you a lifeline?
In Doctrine and Covenants 163:3c we are told, “Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God’s shalom, invites all people to come and receive divine peace in the midst of the difficult questions and struggles of life. Follow Christ in the way that leads to God’s peace and discover the blessings of all of the dimensions of salvation.”
There are so many in our world, even in our community, who are suffering brokenness and threat of injustices. People in need of divine peace. We need to have our eyes wide open so we can see where we need to make the commitments of Ruth. Then act upon those inequities. Speak up. Make a difference. Community of Christ believes in “The Worth of All Persons” (one of the Enduring Principles). Our actions must be a testimony of this commitment to the worth of all people.
Dear God of All, thank you for putting people in our path who challenge us and push us to be an active testimony of your word. May we keep our eyes open and our hearts ready to risk unsurety and discomfort so we may bring surety and comfort to others. May we keep faith and hope in our hearts and our eyes on You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Bonnie Barber, Pastor
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.