Devotional Week 39 Friday
“And her (Naomi’s) neighbor women gave him (the baby) a name, saying, ‘A son is born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David the ancestor of Jesus Christ.”
“How to Live Your Life” by
Two Women Who Knew What They Were Talking About!
5 Characteristics of Naomi – The Community Mother – Part V
“You don’t live in a world all alone. Your (sisters) and brothers are here, too.
What does it mean to be part of a “community”?
Does being part of a “community” mean I look only after those of “my own kind”?
“One life stamps and influences another, which in turn stamps and influences another, on and on, until the soul of human experience breathes on in generations we’ll never even meet.”
Mary Kay Blakely
“Whatever we do to any other thing in the great web of life, we do to ourselves, for we are one.”
Brooke Medicine Eagle
Several years ago, Jim and I had the pleasure of visiting Monument Valley. I’ve never been in a place where the sky was so blue in the day or so black at night. One evening after everyone was asleep, I slipped out of our motel room and gazed into the heavens. Other than a howl of a coyote in the distance, the quietness of that moment in that place was immensely inspiring, to say the least. The next day, our wonderful Indian guide picked us up in a jeep and took us out into a remote area where we visited the “home” of a Native American lady who was 92-years-old. She had lived in this area of desert land all her life. Our guide asked if anyone would like for “Susie,” as he called her, to do their hair. I volunteered and she wound my hair in special braids, and then tied them up on my head with string. For the rest of the trip, (which was two more days), I left my hair just the way “Susie” had styled it. As we drove back toward our motel, across the barren but beautiful land, our guide pointed out how much we are all alike. Laughingly, he noted that whenever anyone went to “Susie’s,” they always wanted their hair done by her. As he told us how her family was raised and lived, generation after generation, I reflected on the ties that bind us all together.
I always find it interesting how astronauts, who have circled the earth in the Space Shuttle or some other capsule, come back to earth with this unique perspective on how small we are on this planet in comparison with the vastness of the universe. Since this is the case, doesn’t it make you wonder why we don’t recognize that this globe on which we live would be so much more harmonious if we took time to understand that a caring community doesn’t just mean I care for those within the small sphere of my own little space.
It’s difficult to put into words how Transformation Garden has changed my view of what it means to be part of a community. Right now, we have God’s daughters and sons from nearly 170 countries around the world, who are part of our “Garden” family. This past week, I met a new sister. She lives in Bagdad, Iraq. I started to cry when I read her note. We’re going to keep in touch and encourage and pray for one another. What I’ve found is that our need to be connected is a link I believe was planted in our hearts by a Father who wants our connection to be a bond that will unite us, not divide us. For it is this link which serves as a connection to our heavenly Father. As I thought about the idea of connection and linkage, it hit me why the Bible is filled with so many pages of begats and relatives and family histories. God never wanted us to forget that we are all hooked together.
What a phenomenal way to end the book of Ruth – 4 small chapters – by finishing with a story about Naomi’s neighbor women who named her grandson, Obed. Now I want to tell you something, when you have a part in naming a child, that youngster becomes linked to you in the most personal way.
When our nephew, Chuck, had his first child, he called and our first question was, “Is the baby a boy or girl?” The second question was, “What is his name?” I’ll never forget the look on my husband Jim’s face when Chuck said, “Zachary James. I wanted my boy to have your name Uncle Jim.” Talk about a connection. From the day that baby was born – there was a tie.
This is what happened when Naomi’s grandson was born. Not only was Naomi the “nurturing” mother, but her community, the neighbor women, named this child and spoke words of encouragement over the life of this precious little boy, “May he (Obed) be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher and supporter in your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him” (Ruth 4:15, Amplified Bible).
It would be easy to miss the linkage that ends the book of Ruth if we just read about the men that are listed in Ruth 4:18-22. So I’m going to rewrite this portion of Scripture with a Transformation Garden historical review. Here’s how it reads now:
“Here are the descendants. Lot had an incestuous relationship with his older daughter and the child was named Moab; ‘he is the father of the Moabites to this day’ (Genesis 19:37). And then Boaz said to his servant, ‘whose maiden is this?’ The servant said, ‘She is the Moabitish girl who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab’ (Ruth 2:5,6). So, Boaz decided to marry Ruth and she conceived a son Obed, who had Jesse, and Jesse had David, the ancestor of Jesus Christ.”
And there’s the link around whom our community is held together – Jesus Christ. From an incestuous relationship to an outsider in Moab, to philandering, murdering King David, down to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter where you were born or who you were born to – you’re linked – you are connected to Jesus Christ. It is this connection that should open up in each of our hearts an unending love for one another.
Not long ago, I found a loose thread on the hem of a skirt and thought I’d just pull it off. What a mistake. The entire hem began to unravel as I pulled on that one little string. As author Rosamond Marshall so correctly noted, “There’s a thread that binds all of us together, pull one end of the thread, the strain is felt all down the line.”
As we end our study in the book of Ruth, may the lesson that never leaves our memory be one of community. A community where the outsider is embraced as an insider. Where the lonely and grieving are comforted and surrounded by the bonds of community.
I’m so thankful that rather than living outside the camp, as Rahab the harlot was forced to do, God’s children learned that loving-kindness, as shown by our Father’s love, when shared with the outsider, reflects the community God intended for all His children here on earth.
“No (woman) is an island entire of (herself). Every (woman) is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of they friends or of thine own were.”
“There are no islands any more.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
“Called to Community”
“Gracious God, we give you thanks for the possibilities for community you place before us as women. As Ruth and Naomi reached across their cultural divide to love and care for one another, may we embrace one another in sisterly solidarity. In our towns, cities, rural areas, and campuses, may we enliven our communities as we join together to work and witness in Your name.
As women, we know that there is always too much work to be done, too little time to do it, and too few people to get it done. We know that pride and posturing often get in the way of coming together in Your service. We know that community often gets more talk than action. But, we also know that joy and power can be found in the companionship and creation into which You invite us.
Untie that which binds us and dismantle that which divides us. By Your grace, may we gather these ropes and rails that limit our lives and communities and weave them into Your new creation.”
Rev. Jane Soyster Gould and
Rev. Constance F. Parvey (Adapted)
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus