I was talking with Linda (pastor Ted's wife) this week about the story of Ruth and Boaz and she brought up a very interesting connection to St. Patrick that I wanted to share with you all this week. And seeing how we just finished celebrating St. Patrick's day it seems appropriate that we just read the story of Ruth. As some of you may remember from our sermon series last March, where we looked at the life of St. Patrick, Patrick was kidnapped by enemies and forced into slavery until his escape some years later. After that miraculous escape he urged the church to let him go back to the land of his enemies that he might serve them again but with the sharing of the gospel. He longed to be with those who did not know Christ and did not serve God. Even though he was kidnapped and mistreated he saw the need and went.
With the story of Ruth, we see some similar parallels. Ruth's people, Moab, were the sworn enemy of Israel. They were the people that Israel destroyed when they came into the promised land. But in spite of al of that, when Ruth had a chance to remain with her people and a chance to regain her national pride, so to speak, chose to instead go with her mother-in-law. A mother-in-law whom no real tangible benefiet could come from. A mother-in-law who was not only from the nation of her sworn enemy but was taking her back to that land to live with the enemy.
Remember, she had just as much opportunity to kick the dust off her feet and be done with Israel as her sister-in-law did, but she chose, out of loyalty to Naomi, to instead go and serve, and not just serve the people of Israel, but to serve the God of Israel. She passed on familiarity, she passed on the comfort of her fathers house, she passed on a life that would more than likely been fairly ordinary and lower in stress and instead went into territory that many of us are scared to go into. An area called "risk". She came into the land and worked, she worked hard. And she submitted herself willingly to the people and to their God. As a result she would eventually become a wife again, a mother, the great grand-mother of king David and ultimately an heir in the line of Christ himself. And it all started with a servants heart; a heart for another despite who they were.
St. Patrick was the same way. He had a heart for people. It didn't matter that they were his enemy. He saw them as having as much value as anyone and he loyally served them in the face of persecution. So as much as this is a great love story between Ruth and Boaz, I believe it is more so a story about grace and servanthood.
Would you be able to go and serve those who may be your sworn enemy with grace? Or would you entertain looking for ways to lovingly serve those who may not be your sworn enemy but may have simply offended you in some way? For you in your personal context, how might this look, and how might you start today looking for opportunities to serve those around you?
Remember, Ruth became the great grandmother of the greatest king in Israel's history and ultimately the king of kings. And St Patrick baptized over 120,000 people in his life and literally and radically transformed the island of Ireland in a way that is still being seen even today. What might God be wanting to do through you?