Steely Resolve

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Verses 16-17 of the first chapter of Ruth are undoubtedly the most famous lines of the entire book. They contain Ruth’s determined vow to remain with her mother-in-law no matter what forces tried to separate them. She said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

The thing that strikes me most about the words that Ruth speaks to Naomi is that they sound so much like wedding vows. Of course, there’s a reason why we express vows, not hopes and wishes, at our wedding ceremonies. Vows are the glue that binds a Christian marriage together, not only when things are good but especially, and inevitably, when they are difficult. The reason why I point out the similarity between Ruth’s vows to Naomi and the vows that are commonly exchanged at weddings is because just like with marriage these vows are a tacit confession that there would be powerful forces seeking to separate Ruth from Naomi. So, Ruth does not make her commitment to her mother-in-law contingent on certain conditions, and she does not speak to Naomi of her hopes and wishes, but rather she makes a ‘til-death-do-us-part vow.

The story of Ruth played out a long, long time ago in a land far, far away, and so we might wonder what, if anything, does this ancient account have to do with us living here as Jesus-followers in Aroostook County, Northern Maine in 2021. However, the lessons of Ruth are just as relevant for followers of God in our own time as they were at any other point in history. I hope you can join us this Sunday as we dive deeper into this story and seek what God might be saying to us through the steely resolve of a Moabitess named Ruth.