The story of Ruth is more complex than we might think, says Dr Rachel Starr. It tells of at least four individuals – Naomi and Orpah (Ruth’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law); Boaz, a distant relative who (plot spoiler!) becomes Ruth’s husband; and Ruth herself. Their actions, motives and viewpoints bring to life a thoughtful narrative that, in the issues it raises, often sounds extraordinarily pertinent in 21st century Britain.
In drawing out themes, preaching points and discussion pointers, Rachel’s commentary on Ruth provides the core material in this year’s Bible Month resource. Bible Month is scheduled for June, but the resource can be used at any time. Download here.
If you are planning to focus on Ruth during worship, a specially prepared series of Ruth-focussed worship sheets have been prepared for streamed worship or personal reflection.
Below, is a starter list of hymns from Singing the Faith that you might find helpful. We have focused on hymns that reflect the overarching themes raised by Rachel in her introduction (pp.3-4).
If one single hymn draws together many of the strands that Rachel has drawn from the book of Ruth, then maybe it is Gary Hopkins’s Thanks for friends who keep on loving (StF 619):
God is glimpsed where love is faithful:
mirrored here in time and space.
“Other people help to shape us”, Gary writes. The four key characters in the book of Ruth surely illustrate both that truth and the grace of God that motivates the shaping.
Our hymn suggestions are grouped into five themes. They are introduced by extracts from observations from Rachel’s study:
- Who is my neighbour?
- Those unlike us
- Reconciliation and diversity
- Bread and belonging
- Resilience and redemption
Rachel Starr has presented two sessions introducing the book of Ruth, available via YouTube.