17.10.08

Dr Mark Greene LICC on Boaz from Ruth

These are the ideas I took away from Mark Greene's sermon.

The book of Ruth is something of a pastoral idyll against the backdrop of people's pleas to God for military intervention - it is a relief from the nocturnal slaughter we bear witness to in the biblical books that surround it. God is working on his big tapestry in 'Ruth'. God's hand is in everything as is revealed by this idea of 'as it turned out'. Our God works through everything to bless us with the mystery of his love and grace. 'Of all the field in all the towns' you see, Ruth had to turn up in this one, the field of her kinsman redeemer. We are to learn much more from Boaz than we might realise, aside from the fact that he is the progenitor of our saviour( Matthew 1:36 and Ruth 4: 13-22).

We see Boaz in so many contexts. He is a member of a community, there at the town gate, in the field as a farmer, he is an employer and a soon-to-be husband. Boaz is overshadowed by Ruth: our eponymous heroine but if we see Boaz as a hero for our times, we see that where there is a priest-there is a worker; where a congregation - a team, where there is church - there is work, Sundays - weekdays and clerial robes - workwear, for Boaz is the first person in the Old testament to say 'The Lord be with you' but in the field. We hear 'the Lord be with you' in the liturgy of our Anglican services and we want to respond to Boaz with - 'And also with you'. But we need to ask ourselves whether we are succeeding in taking that message from our services and applying it in the world. Are we Christ-like, like Boaz on weekdays, in our workplaces, asbosses and in teams - this is where it is needed. Boaz demonstrates how having more than a Leviticus obedience can impact the workplace. We, like him, need to adopt more a Colossians 3:22-24 mentality and esteem the cleaner as much as we do the boss, the secretary as much as we do the manager etc.

Colossians 3:22-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Boaz would have had his investor in people kite-mark. He ensures that his obedience to the laws in Leviticus goes way beyond a mere ticking off of compliancy in the margin. He ensures the ethos works in everything, his is an obedience grasped with the heart. Let her glean the law says, but Boaz does so much more. Boaz sees beyond the law to the person - and the law 'giveth life'. He also gives her water to drink from the water jars and tells his people to drop straw for her that she might pick it up. This is an example of redemptive leadership- this giving of someone a second chance.

At this point Mark shared with us the story of a man at 'The London Fan Company' - a company in London, who, would you believe it, make fans. An employee had snifled £10,000 from the accounts and the boss would have fired him if he hadn't similarly shown these redemptive leadership traits. Instead he invited the man and his wife to discuss their problems and then sought help for this man's gambling addiction, insisting he be accountable to his wife and boss and just pay back a small percentage of what he had stolen: he gave him a second chance.

God' s plan for us is a redemptive one - in providing us with our kinsman-redeemer - Christ. Boaz is truly Christ-like. He goes to the gate, he doesn't rush in. He cares beyond his contractural duty for his workforce and the poor - for Ruth. He puts whole life values at heart. The wing of the garment is like the wing of God. Boaz is Ruth's shelter as God is ours. He offers her protection, this lone woman in an alien culture. This is the generosity of his grace - his abounding grace. Ruth's mother-in-law exhorts her to be patient to see how this all turns out - for us and her and Ruth and it all turns out wonderfully. Ruth, as a daughter-in-law, does more for her mother-in-law than seven sons and a son is born to Ruth and Boaz and and so through this geneological line we will meet our saviour incarnate. The Lord is working his purposes out. He delivers beauty out of chaos , reversing the corruption of the previous stories: Lot's, Tamar and Judah's. The immorality of their forebearers is put right: Boaz and Ruth exhibit godly obedience and through them God will deliver his king and we will take this king into our fields (our workplaces), into our offices and kitchens and libraries etc so that we might truly say the LORD BE WITH YOU!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel... really enjoyed your summary of my sermon which I just happened upon... if only I could have put it that succinctly. And I liked the additions too... the point about Boaz's cloak and God's wing is beautiful... Thanks. The Lord indeed be with you. Mark Greene

Anonymous said...

Ps... I don't have a PhD but thanks for giving me one... Mark

Rachel said...

Thank you Mark, amazing to think that this was two years ago, it was my first term at St John's college, I found your sermon very inspiring and hope to take ideas from it into curacy next year, I begin 2011. The whole idea of people being called to their workplaces by God whatever job they do and help bring in his kingdom there, is a very powerful one.

God bless - ah, the doctorate, perhaps prophetic?!

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