This Sunday we’ll wrap up our July sermon series with our fourth and final question, “Where Do We Go from Here?” How many times in our lives have we asked ourselves this very question? Probably a countless number! Sometimes we’ve asked this question quite literally, especially in the days before GPS! I remember getting hopelessly lost while driving from Atlanta to Hilton Head, South Carolina many decades ago. I was by myself with nothing but directions scratched out on a piece of paper. I got so far off the beaten path that I wasn’t sure I would ever make it back to “civilization.” I couldn’t find a single soul to ask…“Where on Earth do I go from here?” Some of you who share my poor sense of direction might have had similar experiences of your own!
But many a time we’ve asked ourselves this question in a much more figurative way. Where am I going from here? What is ahead for me? For us? For our families, our friends, our faith community? The future is not crystal clear and we are not able to predict what is ahead. But still, we ask the question, seeking direction, guidance, wisdom and light for our path.
As we finish out this sermon series, we’ll reflect on this question through the lens of the Book of Ruth. Naomi, Ruth and Orpah found themselves in the most difficult of circumstances. They had a variety of different choices and, in the end, chose different paths. While we can’t predict the future, what path will we choose? What will be our intention? Our commitments? Our values? Our disposition? How will we move forward? We’ll wrap up this series but continue to engage with one another around this question at our Summer Conversation Groups during July and August. See the information below to sign up for a group so that your thoughts, opinions and insights can be heard. We need you…we need all of us…in order to most abundantly share the grace of God and the love of Jesus Christ with one another, our community and the world.
The video that companions this week is offered by Rev. Aisha Books-Johnson, Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta. She thoughtfully helps us look toward the future as we reflect on our last question…Where Do We Go from Here? To view it, sign up to receive our emails: pbumc.flocknote.com.
Just a reminder…we are now in the sanctuary for the Worship Watch Party at 10:00 each Sunday. The Worship Watch Party, (some pre-recorded elements plus in person scripture reading and sermon) will continue through August 1st. On August 8th we will return to a fully live service in the sanctuary with livestream available for those at home. We continue to ask that all wear a mask indoors to best protect our unvaccinated beloveds, namely our children.
I’m looking forward to being with you on Sunday as we worship God, explore our faith, and gather in the Loving Spirit!
Ruth 1:1-22 (NRSV)
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.
Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your 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 security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”
When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them,
“Call me no longer Naomi,
call me Mara,
for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me.
I went away full,
but the Lord has brought me back empty;
why call me Naomi
when the Lord has dealt harshly with me,
and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
So Naomi returned together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who came back with her from the country of Moab. They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
Questions to consider:
- What energizes or excites you?
- What is something you deeply long for?
- What’s something in your life, in the Church, or in the world that desperately needs to change? How do you want to be a part of that change?
- Share about a time you found common ground with someone who is different than you.
Questions modified from Sanctified Art’s series “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You…” | sanctifiedart.org