828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Christian Formation for Sunday November 4; Ruth 1:1-18; Elimelech's Family Goes to Moab and Naomi and Her Moabite Daughters-in-Law

Nov 4, 2012, 23 Pentecost
Ruth 1:1-18
Elimelech’s Family Goes to Moab
Naomi and Her Moabite Daughters-in-Law
Background: The book of Ruth falls in the division of the Hebrew Bible entitled the Writings. It is one of the five scrolls normally read during the spring festival of the Weeks (Shavuot). The book of Ruth is iconic because the heroine is a non-Israeli woman, and a Moabite (one of the more disliked nations by the nation of Israel). The book of Ruth helps add definition to the story of God’s loving kindness (hesed).
Theme: This passage introduces the principle characters in this book: Naomi and Ruth. The writer describes the bleak conditions in the nation of Israel; partly by describing the famine in the nation as well as the plight of two women in Israel and the surrounding countryside. The writer helps define the boundaries or lack of boundaries to God’s loving kindness.
Questions to Ponder
* Briefly describe the setting of this book: most likely when was it written, what was the political setting in Israel, what was the religious setting for the Israelites, and who was in charge?
* Briefly identify the Moabites, the location of Moab and Bethlehem. What might the significance of Moab and the Moabites be in this story?
* The name “Bethlehem” means house of bread. What is ironic about the name of Naomi’s home given the context of the book?
* Naomi’s husband is named Elimelech, Eli may refer to God and melech means king in Hebrew. How might his name influence the dignity given to Naomi?
* The names of Naomi’s sons are translated to “sickness” (Mahlon) and “destruction” (Chilion). What might be the reason for those names in this story? How might that information impact our understanding of the ensuing story?
* What would be unnatural about two Israelite men marrying Moabite women? Given the prescriptions of the Torah would that have been allowed?
* What might make the story even more dramatic given the death of Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion? What might have been the impact on Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah?
* Why might Naomi have sent her daughter-in-laws back to their families, specifically to their mother’s households?
* For what reason would Naomi believe Ruth and Orpah would marry her sons even if she had them?
* Who do you think showed greater respect for Naomi, Ruth or Orpah? What made them more respectful?
* Given the period this story was written and the exclusivist attitude in Israel what might be the “story behind the story” in the first chapter of Ruth? Why would that story be important in the life of Old Testament Israel?
* What is the story of hope inside the opening passage of Ruth?
* What might the application of this story be for us today?

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