-Rev. Sarah Renfro-
He said, "May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter! You have acted even more faithfully than you did at first. You haven't gone after rich or poor young men.
Ruth 3:10 CEB
Almost twenty years, comedian Chris Rock had a special that included a bit about those wanting credit for things they are “supposed to do.” Using plenty of expletives, Rock made fun of those who say, "I take care of my kids." Well, “You're supposed to…” he shouted on stage. The 1996 special is not for family viewing, but the essence of this statement is true. There are some things we are just “supposed to do.”
We are supposed to take care of our family members. Naomi was trying to take care of her daughters-in-law when she told them to go back to their mothers after their husbands died. That was caring and kind. And expected at that time and in light of a famine. It was not unkind that Orpah said good-bye, but Ruth would not leave her mother-in-law.
A foreigner in her MIL’s homeland, Ruth provided for her family of two, and in turn, Naomi made sure that Ruth would be taken care of in the future. Boaz had shown kindness to Ruth by letting her glean from his fields of grain. And he thought Ruth was kind for taking care of her MIL and by proposing marriage to him, an older relative. He would do what he was supposed to do, by marrying a relative in need, and he praises Ruth as one who exhibits hesed, loving kindness, loyalty, faithfulness.
In Ruth’s eyes, however, she is just doing what she is supposed to do, as a devoted daughter-in-law and child of God. She embodies the hesed of God, who also “takes care of [Her] kids” because that’s what God is “supposed to do.” God doesn’t brag or boast or ask for a special blessing, and neither does Ruth. Ruth is praised for going beyond mere niceties. Hesed may be displayed by human and Divine, and it does not discriminate. Ruth was, after all, a foreign widow. God demonstrates divine care for all who seek refuge.
Who in our world needs hesed? How can we practice loving kindness? Aren’t we called to take care of our family of faith (brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles in Christ), just as God takes care of us? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?
- - -
God of hesed, encourage us to practice loving kindness, loyalty, and faithfulness, beyond borders and boundaries, not just because we are related by blood or marriage, but because we are “supposed to” as members of Your family. Amen.
Rev Sarah Renfro is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Geist Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Fishers, Indiana. Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Sarah formerly modeled internationally, was ordained into ministry in 2010, is married to Rev. Kyle Brown, mother to Miriam, March Madness fanatic (Go Big Blue!), and writer at m-bodied.com. Her ministry includes leading body image workshops and preaching on embodiment and faith.