Monday, August 11, 2008

Ruth: harvest

Last week we talked about how empty life looked for Naomi. She’d endured a famine, a move to a foreign country, and the loss of her husband and sons. She returned to Bethlehem angry with God, certain he had been unduly harsh to her.

But as our story rolls into chapter 2 of Ruth, we see the harvest. I asked you to look for the harvest words you could find. You should have seen words like “field” and “glean” and “ears of corn.” There’s a wealth of harvest terms in the second chapter. This is no accident.

In chapter one, we saw emptiness and death. Now, in chapter two, we see fullness and harvest, the gleaning of the abundance.

Harvest for a farmer is the culmination of the season’s work. A farmer plows and prepares the soil, plants the seed, tends the plants, pulls weeds, waits for rain, and then harvests the crop. The harvest is the fruit, the completion, the abundance that comes from the work.

Into that picture of abundance came our two empty women, Naomi and Ruth.

Once in Bethlehem, Ruth went to work. She headed out to the harvest field to pick up the leftovers. The custom of the day allowed widows to gather what grain slipped through the reapers’ grasp. It was hard work but it yielded food. Ruth, the young empty widow, was now gathering barley grain in a harvest so plentiful that there were leftovers. She was an empty field entering a field filled with the seed of abundance. We can sense the changing winds here.

What Naomi could not do for herself, Ruth did.

Next time: different kinds of fields

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