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Ruth’s Welcoming

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A full house. Warmed by delighted faces that make rooms glow. Men gathered together as they always do. Women gathered as they always do. Children and dogs wanting always to be where the adults, and food are. The same house everywhere at Christmas.

Were you a passerby you would want someone to invite you in. A small hope kindles that you may have one day, such a house.

Is it this hope that motivates Ruth? Does she see this future hidden within her pledge to Naomi? Naomi who has nothing. No husband, no sons, no home — nothing but the love and ardor of Ruth. “Wherever you go I will go, where you lodge I will lodge, your people will be my people, your God will be my God.”

Naomi, believing her own God had abandoned her is unable to see God’s love staring desperately into her face. Ruth believes that Naomi is her home and Naomi is unaware that she is the door to God’s house. A very full house. “My father’s house has many rooms.”

The door opens. Ruth finds herself flung into the deep end of an ocean. A magnificent current that transforms family and friends into kings and servants, magicians and minstrels, the human into the divine. We are escorted in by the king of this house, David. At the Temple door orders are given for the care of his guest and indeed he will serve her with every good thing in his command. The temple guard, stewards robed in cloaks and armor, carry and escort Ruth’s possessions. Though few they will yield many blessings to the House of David.

Naomi’s strength and love brings Ruth to this house and to this room. Although we see a grand party, women preparing a meal, men waiting to be fed and guests being cared for, Ruth’s vision is clearer. She sees her mother’s eyes, smells the bread she is carrying. Sees her as she was years ago before so many loaves had been baked. She feels the strong encouraging grip of her grandmothers hands and that rapturous love conveyed through the fingertips. The cluster of men act as Ruth’s suitors and strain to catch a glimpse of her. They are in reality beloved friends but will not share a future with her. That honor is saved for someone else – Boaz. He sits alone at the table waiting and staring unobserved at Ruth thinking perhaps his table will be filled. His garments are embroidered with wheat to symbolize his gift to her. Her future will be secured with him. And the future is what part of her story about really, for this could not have happened without her. The House of David stands upon her foundation and from his great tent the advent of Christ.

Swaddled in his father’s arms the infant sleeps. His mother accepts the small gift offered by three extravagant admirers. They see already what we may come to learn. It is almost magical to us that they can know so much. They are the wise men and women of the family the magicians the grandparents the uncles and aunts. Above the young parents attendants wait upon their every need. Angels disguised as servants holding above the holy trio’s heads the symbols of their divinity. Their wings spread out to honor them who bring the son of man into the world. Nieces and nephews, children of friends, elegant guests crowd the staircase and from on high we delight in the simple songs of Christmas. And in answer to these heralds the light comes into our world. She carries two candles and says “Be not afraid. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ the Lord.” And we are no longer afraid.

God has entered the world through the most unlikely doorway. The simple love of women.