From famine to harvest


The appointed Old Testament readings for the first two Sundays in November take us to a gem – the book of Ruth, perfectly told in four short chapters.


The first verse sets the stage: “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land.”


To experience famine is to experience not only physical hunger but deprivation, fear, anxiety, even a crisis of faith. Naomi goes with her husband and sons to Moab to seek food, fulfillment and a future. Tragedy unfolds as she is left a widow and then as she experiences the deaths of her two sons. She returns to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. She insists to the surprised homecoming gathering that she be called Naomi, meaning “joy,” no more. She urges them to call her Mara, meaning “sadness.”


The first chapter ends with this sentence: “Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem at the time of the barley harvest.”


Harvest! A sign of promise, the opposite of famine. To experience harvest is to experience not only provision but encouragement, confidence, courage, hope. In this lovely story, there is redemption, restoration for the one who has lost much. There is human faithfulness, faithfulness beyond expectation, mirroring the faithfulness of God.  There is welcome for the foreigner, Ruth the Moabite. There is hope. There is harvest.


May every lovely sign of harvest direct our spirits to God, the giver of every good and perfect gift.