Ruth Gleaning Andrew Compton, a recent Westminster graduate and husband of our fabulous organist, Pam, preached for the first time today in our church. He chose the Book of Ruth for his text. It left me thinking, a lot of former Assembly members are like Naomi in chapter one. She and her family went to Moab because of a famine. Any of us felt like we were starving in a church before we found the Assembly?  Then eventually she goes back home, the people welcome her–“Naomi! Good to see you again!”, and she says, “Don’t call me Naomi anymore,”–which means pleasant–“Call me Mara”–which means bitter–“because God has dealt me bitter blows.” Then she says something, with  bitterness, that a lot of us have felt but maybe not said aloud, “I went out full and came home empty.” Been feeling like that sometimes since you left the Assembly? Quite a reversal from when you thought the Assembly was going to be so fulfilling. Naomi says, “Why should you call me Pleasant when the Lord has turned his back on me and left me desolate!”

Naomi’s sons had married Moabite women, something forbidden by God for Israelite men. Ruth, the Moabite widow of one of Namoi’s sons, had returned to Israel with her. Her Israelite friends and neighbors must have been delighted (not!) to have a Moabite in their midst. Do you ever feel like you left the Assembly with extra baggage you don’t want? My baggage is my “mental illnesses” (to quote Anne Lamott)–anxiety, guilt, depression, perfectionism.

But, of course, the great thing about this story is that this very Moabite woman became an ancestor of King David and so of Christ. When Boaz married Ruth, he redeemed the inheritance of Naomi’s husband, so when Ruth had her first son, the women of the town said to Naomi, “God has blessed you! He will be your restorer and sustainer!” So you never know. The very things you most deplore about your post-Assembly situation might very likely be things God plans to turn for good. I can say my baggage of depression is a good thing, in one respect, because it forces me to use thankfulness every day as one of means to quell it.

You can hear Andrew’s sermon in streaming audio at http://christreformedinfo.squarespace.com/.

2 thoughts on “Sermon on the Book of Ruth….

  1. Margaret,

    Thanks for the kind words. I only hope that my sermon was that reminder that we all need to hear, week in and week out, namely that our sins have been forgiven and we are no longer under the condemnation of God thanks to the finished work of Jesus – both his death on the cross which takes away our sins, and his perfect life which has been reckoned to our accounts, leaving us perfectly acceptable in God’s sight. . . wow! I love the end of that Easter hymn: “Alleluia, what a Savior!!!”

    Blessings,

    Andrew

  2. Yes, I’ve felt like Naomi. Talked to the pastor of where I’m at now, saying, “I’m sad and bothered that my passion is gone. I’m not interested in getting excited about the Lord anymore.” When I think of all that I used to be so gungho to do for the Lord, there’s just no enthusiasm. There’s the story of Joseph who could look back on his bad experience and say, “What was meant for evil, God meant for good.” And all the nice Christians who remind me of Romans 8, that everything happens for good to those who love the Lord. I’m not where Joseph was yet. I still can’t quite see how the Assembly was meant for good. But I think I can see a glimmer of light of understanding. I know I am on a healing road of maturing in my understanding of things that happen along a spiritual journey. Four years now, I’m out of the Assembly mind mold. I’ve lightened my baggage. I think, though, that this example with Naomi was very appropiate.

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