Reflection on Ruth 1:(1-7)
8-19a; Psalm 113; 2 Timothy 2:(3-7) 8-15; Luke 17:11-19
Rev Margaret W. Thomas
Walking in the pathway of faith
and God’s grace filled presence draws us continually.
Sometimes we recognize the signs and the signals. Sometimes
we respond to people places, and events long before we acknowledge
our yearnings and our own promises. Sometimes we may need a
jolt or a reminder of our former recognitions and responsibilities
to be returned to the path and sometimes we find that we have
been on the path and just did not realize it for what it was.
Fall is a fine season for walks
and hikes among the rustling leaves of red and gold. We may
scuff along with children or a dog and delight in their play
and discovery of fruits and nuts of harvest time. We may
also walk the seasonal paths of winter preparation or we many
walk the paths of new culture when we visit or greet folks from
afar. We may search new paths of spirituality when we make a
pilgrimage, or read a book or take a yoga exercise class. Our
entire pattern for daily life may change with sudden illness,
loss, impairment or death. All these changes challenge
us to move somehow. We may find the wellsprings of faith
and the future in the roots or the seeds that have already been
The book of Ruth carries both
the roots and the seeds of Jesus family history as a Hebrew.
The daughter in law, Naomi, moves from Bethlehem to Moab when
married. Naomi then follows her mother in law, Ruth,
back to Bethlehem after the family's men all die. Naomi adopts
the Jewish faith of Ruth and bears a child who becomes an ancestor
of Jesus. The old roots were tapped and produced the seeds of
new faith for the women and for the future. Verse 8 of Psalm
echoes the story in recognizing the wonders of love, life and
God, While Sarah's story also carries the same joy, it
fits here too. "He makes the woman of a childless house
to be a joyful mother of children."
Luke's gospel account of the
healing of ten lepers and the acknowledging thankful return
of one Samaritan gives the clarity of following a faithful Christian
pathway. The other nine lepers gleefully tear off for home.
One returns to spend time with Jesus. The Samaritan of different
traditions and culture doubles back, and receives a blessing
besides a healing. The grateful leper is transformed in faithful
spirit as well as in body. The writer of 2 Timothy, echoes the
helaing attitude of the leper, being able to endure everything
for the sake of the gospel. The pathway has been secured and
enriched in both roots and in seeds.
The book, The
Samurai's Garden, by Gail Tsukiyama tells a story of
Stephen, a young man suffering from tuberculosis. His family
is Chinese, and owns a summer home on the sea in Japan. A resident
gardener, Matsu, tends to the sea side house and grounds.
His garden work is a spiritual discipline; and his entire life
a spiritual pathway. Stephen is sent to the family home to recover
his health under the care of Matsu. The time setting is when
Japan is beginnng to prey upon China in the fall of 1937. The
family is also in stress with the father's travel and estrangement.
Stephen is physically weak and
spiritually bereft. A pathway of healing and transformation
begins while Stephen works with Matsu in the garden. There is
more development as Stephen meets the people of Matsu's village
and learns fo the ravages that leprosy had left them two decades
ago. Yet, all the time Stephen and Matsu begin a relationship
that will transcend the class and culture differences of their
lives and spirits.
The healing of leprosy in the
ten lepers was complete. The spiritual healing and cultural
healing of the Samaritan was far more transcending and enduring
in a differenet level. The pathway with Jesus still offers that
transformation for us. We can work on roots and seeds concurently.
We need only take that path.