The Sermon title is Gleaning
|By Léon Augustin Lhermitte - lhermitte, Public Domain|
Early Thoughts: Within the Torah are commandment about caring for the vulnerable in the community. Within the rules of living together are guidelines about ensuring that all have access to resources. In the book of Leviticus we read:
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien, You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien (Lev 23:22. Lev 19:10)Ruth has come to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi. They are both widowed, Ruth is a Moabite, an alien, a foreigner. How will they make a living?
For most of human history their choices would be few. Arguably even today, in most places on the planet, their choices would be limited. Luckily in Jewish law there is an option. They can glean. They can walk behind the harvest crew and collect the missed grain.
Surely no farmer seeking to maximize his income would allow such grain to lie in the fields. Surely the prudent approach to farming would be to send a crew out to gather what was missed, that it too might get put into the barn, any good farmer would harvest right to the edge of the field. Right?
Unless care for the community, care for the vulnerable is made a priority. Then you might do things like leave some grain in the fields so that those who need it can come and get it for themselves.
At any rate, Ruth goes out to glean. And it appears she makes an impression on Boaz, the owner of the field where she ends up. Is it love at first sight? Is it, as stated in the text, because Boaz has heard reports of Roth's faithfulness and devotion to Naomi? Is it God moving behind the scenes, stirring in the heart of Boaz? At any rate Boaz not only allows Ruth to glean in his fields but he ensures that her gleaning will be very profitable.
In the brokenness of her life, in her time of need, Ruth finds great abundance. Abundance which she then carries back to share with Naomi. Where there is abundance fighting against need and scarcity, is that a place where we see God?
WE have times of brokenness. We have times where something in our lives seems scarce. Where can we glean for what we need in abundance? Where is God's grace waiting to be found?