So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before one person could recognize another; for he said, ‘It must not be known that the woman came to the threshing-floor.’ Then he said, ‘Bring the cloak you are wearing and hold it out.’ So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley, and put it on her back; then he went into the city. She came to her mother-in-law, who said, ‘How did things go with you, my daughter?’ Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, ‘He gave me these six measures of barley, for he said, “Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.”’ She replied, ‘Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.’
The other night I was watching the old film ‘Guess who’s coming to dinner’ where a blonde brings home her black boyfriend. Both parents have to grapple with this. Her mom says, ‘We’ve brought her up to believe that all are equal, the colour of someone’s skin is no more important than the colour of their eyes, but we didn’t say marry one!’ His mom says, ‘They are so in love, we are old we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be in love.’ The young man says of his girlfriend ‘It’s not that she minds the colour difference; she doesn’t even notice it.’
Race relations are happening right here in the book of Ruth. The last few verses remind us that a foreigner, a Moabite, despised and detested by the Jews was the great-grandmother of their greatest King, So what is all that about? Naomi sees something in her Moabite daughter-in-law that could bring two cultures together.
Ruth had said, ‘Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.’ Naomi encouraged her daughter-in-law to seduce Boaz then she was sent away in secrecy, but not empty handed, sent away with provisions. Naomi obviously knew Boaz well, she says ‘For the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.’ A shrewd mother-in-law, a willing daughter-in-law and a man in love! The way is paved for the shaping of Jewish history as of course it is from this lineage that Jesus himself is born.
If ever a passage speaks into our relationships today it’s this. Blue Mink did it well many years ago when they sang ‘What we need is a great big melting pot, big enough to take the world and all we’ve got and keep it stirring for a hundred years or more and turn out coffee coloured people by the score.’
Lord we live in mixed up times, people of all colours, cultures, shapes and sizes make up our communities and you know and love each one of us. Help us to love each other with genuine acceptance not mere tolerance. Help us to learn that love is greater than religion Amen
The Rev’d Lena Talbot is Minister of the Blackburn North and East Pastorate