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10th October 2023

Ruth Part One, A poem by Mary Birch

Emilelech and Naomi,
Like many a refugee,
With their boys were driven
Out of their homeland.
Perhaps drought caused a famine so severe
They left the country they held so dear.

They left Judea, travelling east for fifty miles.
Their journey ceased in Moab where crops were growing.
They settled their, little knowing what troubles were still to come.
Emililech would soon succumb to death.
Mahlon and Chilion, their sons, married Moab girls
Ones who proved good and faithful wives
Too soon the boys would lose their lives.

Naomi, downcast, bereft;
In Moab there was nothing left but misery.

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. Ruth 1:1-5

Naomi and her family became refugees through no fault of their own. Watching their children starving before their eyes left Naomi and Emilelech with no choice but to leave and look elsewhere to live. This was a huge decision; to leave family, country, culture and set out into the unknown.
It’s a story all too familiar today. Many now take the desperate decision to leave their homes and all that is familiar and dear to them to look for a better future. Sometimes the decision is made because of economic pressures or the results of climate change. For others, corrupt regimes, oppressive government, discrimination or civil war leaves people desperate to find safety and sanctuary for themselves and their children.
Naomi and her family found a new life. They were accepted into Moab and began a new life. The boys married well and all seemed to be going well. Until tragedy struck.

As we think about the story and reflect on what the implications are for us today in the face of the huge challenges thrown up by the movements of so many people it would be easy to quail at the scale of the problem. How should we pray?
Of course, we hold those who have made the decision to flee in our prayers; praying for their safety and security, that they would truly find a welcome and the sanctuary they are seeking. However, we can also pray against the injustices, the selfishness which is part of the issue of climate change, corrupt government and warmongering.
We pray as Jesus taught His disciples: Let your Kingdom, O God, come.

For Reflection

  • Where am I called to reach out to those who are on the edges of society?
  • Naomi and her daughters were both left widowed and, therefore, helpless and hopeless.
  • Who are the helpless and hopeless in Britain’s society today?
  • Where and how can the Church work to be the leaven that changes society?
  • We pray “ your kingdom come” what does God’s kingdom look like?

A song related to this theme:


Gracious God, lover of the poor and the weak
The vulnerable and the oppressed
We pray for those who feel they have no roots, no identity, no sense of belonging.
We pray for those who are refuges in strange lands
Driven from home and country
By civil war, oppression, famine or natural disaster.

Lord, give us a proper sense of the worth of those around us
A recognition of the humanity that binds us all together.
Give us a sense of your love for all; no matter their race or culture, background or circumstances.

Let you Kingdom come, we pray O Lord! Let your justice roll down like water, your righteousness like an ever-rolling stream.
Amen. (from Prayers for all Seasons by Nick Fawcett.)

Thought For the Day written by Sue Allen

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