When Everything Goes Wrong

2021-10-10 – Year B – Proper 23 – The Ordinary Ways of God Stewardship Series, part 1
The Rev. Canon Christopher M. Klukas
Ruth 1; Psalm 90:1-12; Hebrews 3:1-6; Mark 10:17-31

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad!

  • “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
  • The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad years. 2020-2021. Global pandemic, racial tension, political discord, an insurrection in the Capitol Building. Just when we thought things were getting better, the Delta surge!
  • This is not unlike the situation we read about at the beginning of the Book of Ruth.

Meet Naomi

  • Ruth 1:1 “In the days when the judges ruled…”
    • Judges is a book about history repeating itself. The cycle of apostasy.
    • Judges 21:25 is the last verse of Judges, the last verse before the book of Ruth. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25, ESV)
      • Political tension. Lack of moral standards. General chaos!
  • Ruth 1:1 A famine in Israel causes Naomi and her family to leave their homeland in search of food and greener pastures.
    • This may be seen as the judgment of God on Israel. Leviticus 26:14, 19-20
  • Naomi’s family settled in Moab, a neighboring country Southeast of Israel. Moabites and Israelites were not friends.
    • Deuteronomy 23:3-6.
    • At the beginning of the book of Judges, the Moabite king attacks Israel and occupies everything between Jericho and Moab for 18 years (Judges 3:12-30)!
    • Moabites worshipped Chemosh, an idol.
  • Naomi’s husband dies (Ruth 1:3), Naomi’s sons marry Moabite wives (1:4).
  • After 10 years, both of Naomi’s sons die (1:5). “left without her two sons and her husband.” Neither of the son’s wives bore children in 10 years of marriage.

A Glimmer of Hope

  • Ruth 1:13 – Naomi feels abandoned by God.
    • Perhaps her circumstances are due to God’s judgment, perhaps they aren’t. The author doesn’t make this clear. Regardless, this is how she feels.
    • Have you ever felt this way?
    • When we feel down about our circumstances, it can cloud our perception of everything and it can blind us to the good that is happening around us.
  • Three glimmers of hope:
    • Ruth 1:6 a rumor emerges that “the Lord had visited his people and given them food.” If the famine was due to God’s judgement, it seems that the time of punishment is coming to an end.
    • Ruth decides to stay with Naomi v. 16.
      • Ruth could have returned to her Father’s house or remarried, she could have remained in the place that was familiar to her. She didn’t.
      • Naomi tries to dissuade her twice, she won’t listen.
    • After we read about these two glimmers, we get a sense that Naomi hasn’t recognized them as such.
      • Naomi tries to change her name when she returns to Israel (vv. 19-21).
      • She is clearly blaming God.
    • One more glimmer: the beginning of the barley harvest (v. 22).
  • “In a sense, [Naomi] is figuring out her “next normal,” which is a similar place most of us find ourselves as we emerge from a global pandemic… [W]e are all trying to figure out what the next normal is in the wake of calamity. Will our experience push us towards bitterness, or can we by faith look for what is next even considering everything that has gone wrong? What does it mean to be on the threshold “at the beginning of … harvest” after such a long time of famine, grief, and loss? Do we have an imagination for what God could do next?” (David Roseberry)

Conclusion

Bp. Neil Lebhar – “the cultural upheaval of 1968 was followed closely by the revival of the Jesus Movement which reached its peak in 1972. As we continue to stand firm in our day, let us also keep our eyes open for opportunities to proclaim the unchanging truth in a changing world.”

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