We need more Ruths this Christmas

Published 6:00 am Friday, December 18, 2020

In some ways this is the hardest time of the year to write a column.

We have heard many of the same stories and lessons over and over. We listen to the same music and watch the same shows. We eat the same foods and appreciate many of the same things. Even though familiarity can be comforting, we probably don’t want mundane. That was my worry in sitting down to put some thoughts to paper. To be honest, I was struggling.

However, once I settled into the idea that there was nothing routine about this Christmas this year. Even though Christmas can seem repetitive from year to year, this Christmas is unique for us all. I was telling my youngest daughter who is having a hard time appreciating her history class that one day she will understand the value of history more because she will have lived it. Her grandchildren will one day ask Granny Rachel what it was like to live through the “Pandemic of 2020.”

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Honestly, that prediction did not do much to convince her of the value of her history course in the short term, but I think I am right. These days, this time, this situation will be engrained in us as a culture and a society for the rest of our lives, affecting us for generations. Maybe this is culturally akin to the Great Depression. So many people have lost their lives, their businesses, their well-being, their normal. You yourself may be sick of hearing about this pandemic stuff, but there is no getting around the fact that it is consuming us right now and is part of our collective DNA going forward.

And smack in the middle is Christmas.

Yesterday, I preached on the story of Ruth binding herself to Naomi as an expression of true love and divine kindness. That act reflected God’s heart, even if Ruth would not have had a clear idea of who God even was. There was no national religious identity other than a couple of generations prior Naomi’s people had left the wilderness and entered the Land of Promise. Still, Ruth had a sense of godly loving-kindness that made her cleave to Naomi. Coming out of a more than 10-year famine, the loss of a father and two sons, and the realization that there was no future beyond begging, those human hearts did something beautiful in all of that trouble – they cared. They cared deeply and profoundly in ways that mirror God’s heart. They took that desperate situation and made it livable because they still cared for each other, no matter what.

If you know the story of Ruth, you know she is the great grandmother of King David and directly in the lineage of Jesus, named in his genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel. She is held in honor for all time and tied to the coming of our Lord all because she dared to stare disaster and despair in the face with eyes of true love and kindness. We need more Ruths, especially this Christmas.

Grace and peace to you all!

REV. DR. PETER SMITH is the transitional pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at pastorfpc@centurylink.net.