Devotion: Ruth 1:8-10The Apostle Paul instructed the Romans in 12:15 to, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." Knowing the difference is important. In times of mourning, it is inappropriate to rejoice. Imagine attending a funeral and someone suggests doing the wave or letting the kids have a go at a pinata. Death is a cause for weeping. It is the consequence of sin and even for the Christian it is a time for sadness at the loss of one we love--even if for the deceased it is entry into Heaven awaiting the great day of resurrection. Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus (John 11:35) and this seems the right thing for the Christian to do with others in the face of death. I have been to one too many "Celebrations of Life," where it was unclear to me that anyone actually died. We try to move past the weeping and mourning so quickly that we do not really stop to deal with the real and devastating consequences of death. It is just these consequences that Naomi, Orpah and Ruth face in our passage today.
"But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, 'Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!' Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, 'No, we will return with you to your people.' " -Ruth 1:8-10 ESVWithout father, son or husband these women are destitute. Naomi's plan to return to her homeland is her last chance at securing her well-being. She asks her daughter-in-laws to return to their mothers because they have no future with her. The death of Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion has brought real and devastating consequences for all of the women, but Naomi will feel the sting the most acutely of the three. Naomi tries to send off Orpah and Ruth so that they may find a new husband and perhaps the rest and relief that was absent in the present situation.
Naomi wants to bear the burden of death by herself and in some ways we can see this as noble, but in others it is foolish. The trouble with failing to acknowledge and note a death with mourning and weeping is that those who will bear the consequence will have to do so alone. I remember some years back as I met with a grieving widow she stopped me as I was about to leave. The widow thanked me for saying her husband's name since no one else seemed to do so. I have often thought about that as I considered why that may be. The best answer I have is that we are afraid of death and speaking the name of dead person makes it real. We want widows and widowers, orphans and the bereaved to bear their pain and sorrow silently and nobly and, therefore, deliver us from the scary acknowledgment that life is fragile and death is always on the horizon.
Thankfully, both Orpah and Ruth linger with Naomi. She needs them to weep with her and mourn with her. We need others to weep with us in times of death and loss as well. We cannot ignore or hide the bereaved for any reason. We are clearly called in Scripture to come alongside those who weep and offer the comfort of presence, but also the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who conquered sin, death and Satan once and for all in his own death and resurrection. So weep with those who weep because the reality of death is it is sad. We can remember and give thanks for those who die, but do not confuse mourning and rejoicing, lest you forget that our fervent prayer is that God will wipe the tears from our eyes and turn our mourning into dancing.
News for You:
CPC at the Okanogan County Fair, September 7 – Sept 10
This year CPC will have a booth at the Okanogan County Fair. This is an opportunity for our church family to be a sign of God’s Love, a source of Joy and a beacon of Hope to those who do not yet know Jesus. We will have a brief training for volunteers following worship on September 3.
Adam's Road Ministry Event, September 14, 7 p.m.
The musical group Adam's Road will be at CPC soon. This group will be sharing the gospel in both testimony and music and should not be missed. Again, come out and bring some friends. The event is free (though a love offering will be taken) and everyone attending gets a free CD.
Small Groups to Launch the week of September 17Our Fall Small Groups will be concentrating on, "Your Church Experiencing God Together," the follow-up to last Fall's "Experiencing God." Sign ups will begin shortly, do not miss out!