Healing Past Hurts

On August 19, 2018, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Healing Past Hurts Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins (Ruth 4) Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. Once upon a time a man named Elimelech and his wife Naomi moved from […]

Healing Past Hurts
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
(Ruth 4)

Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

Once upon a time a man named Elimelech and his wife Naomi moved from Judah to Moab because there was a severe drought in Judah. Moab might seem a strange place for them because they grew up hearing that the Moabites were not good people. In fact, as the story of Sodom suggests the Moabites were born out of drunken incest. But prejudices need to be challenged.

Elimelech and Naomi built a life in Moab and raised their sons there, and their sons grew up and took Moabite wives. But eventually, Elimelech and his two sons died. Naomi and her two daughters in law were left alone. No children. No means of support. One daughter in law, Orpah, reluctantly went back to her family to start her life over. But Ruth would not leave Naomi. In fact, Ruth makes a till death we do part sort of vow to Naomi:
Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: [let nothing] but death part thee and me.

Naomi decides to move back to her homeland. The drought is over there, and one has struck Moab. So she goes back to Judah, and Ruth goes with her, because she has vowed to stay with Naomi until one of them leaves this world.

In Judah, Ruth seeks work picking up leftover grain in a barley field. It’s not much, but one does what one must. She meets the owner of the barley farm, Boaz, who is very kind to her and she later learns that he is a relative of her late husband’s.

That’s good news because it was the custom in some cultures for childless widows to be married to their husband’s nearest male relative, to secure the dead man’s family lineage and to secure the widow’s safety and comfort as well.

Boaz has never married before but he agrees to marry Ruth if a closer relative does not wish to do so. Marrying Ruth means getting Ruth AND Naomi, because they have vowed to be together until death, like a marriage. So, the husband will get a wife and a dead cousin’s mother. Any takers? Nope? Just Boaz? So be it.

Boaz, the lifelong bachelor marries Ruth (and takes in Naomi for good measure), and Boaz and Ruth have a child, Obed.

Now, the child is Boaz’s and Ruth’s, or we could consider it Ruth’s first husband’s, since Boaz was basically acting as surrogate for him. But the women in town don’t call the baby Boaz’s or Ruth’s or Ruth’s late husband’s; they call the baby Naomi’s!

One woman has a child but the other woman is considered its parent…so much so the neighbors imagine that Naomi nurses the baby! Of course, Naomi hasn’t been pregnant in decades, but don’t let such trivial details ruin a good story.

In the end, the women in town tell Naomi, “Ruth is more to you than seven sons.”

Ruth never left Naomi. Promised to be with her forever. Went to work to support them. Married a guy and even proposed to him to keep the family safe. Ruth, the Moabite, and Boaz the lifelong “bachelor” have come together to provide for Ruth and Naomi (the couple bound by sacred covenant) and to have a baby that is considered Naomi’s.
This story is almost too queer for the Logo television network!

And then the piece de resistance: Ruth is more important to Naomi than 7 sons.

NOTHING is more important to a woman in patriarchal antiquity than a son. Sons are social security. Sons are survival. And 7 is the number of perfection. There is nothing that could be imagined to be better than 7 sons, but Ruth is more valuable to Naomi than even multiple sons (in case you haven’t caught the way their feelings for each other have developed).

In chapter 4, Naomi is given a blessing: “May your house become like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.” Tamar prostituted herself. Remember, her husband died, and then his brother her second husband died, and so Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute to entrap her father in law. Her plan succeeded and she finally had children, including Perez.

Naomi gets a blessing, and the blessing is a reminder of a son whose mother lost everything, but who would not let her past be the blueprint for her future. May your house be the like the house of Perez.
In other words, may your past hurts be healed, and your future be joyous.

Naomi has twice lost her home – first in Bethlehem, then in Moab.
She’s lost her husband, and her sons.
But she never lost Ruth. When we can be thankful for what is left, we can build on it. We can heal from the pain of the past and reclaim our joy. There is healing from past hurts.

This story can help us heal from past hurts. Maybe religion was used as a weapon against us, but right here in scripture we see Jesus’ ancestors. We see Jesus coming from the wrong kinds of people, we see the condemned becoming the affirmed, the rejected becoming the celebrated, the heartbroken becoming the healed.

Prostitutes, Moabites, a lifelong bachelor who has lots of queer qualities if you ask me…THESE are the ancestors of Jesus (whose own mother got caught in a scandal when she was pregnant).

These are the people who are part of Jesus’ family tree, along with David the murderer and Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 concubines (1000 spouses…I had to wait half my life to legally get one!).

By the standards of religious fundamentalists, Jesus was trash from a long line of trash, and yet he is CALLED the son of God, the anointed one. The story of Jesus is the story that proclaims without equivocation: ALL PEOPLE HAVE SACRED VALUE.

To say that someone with Jesus’ pedigree is Lord is to say that God doesn’t have a soul to waste…no one gets left out, no gets left behind. I got a robe, you got a robe, ALL God’s children got a robe!

Jesus’ story is the story that promises: YOU ARE GOD’S MIRACLE AND NOT GOD’S MISTAKE.

To call Jesus Lord is to reflect on crazy Abraham, dishonest Jacob, enslaved Joseph, Madam Rahab, Tamar the seductress, Ruth the Moabite, David the murderer, Solomon the out of control polygamist, Mary the unwed pregnant teenager…to love Jesus is to love the people religion always taught you to hate! To follow Jesus will put you in suspect company. I promise you, Jesus would be often found on Wilton Drive today. We’ve always been his peeps.

Sons and daughters of Ruth, sisters and brothers of Jesus: You are forever held in the love that God is because there is not a spot where God is not. You have sacred value. You are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake. And this is the gospel, the good news! Amen.

Dear God,
Heal my past hurts.
As I am healed, others are as well.
Thank you, God!

Comments are closed.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can
take care of it!