Sermon Lesson: Ruth 1:16-17 (NRSV)
Some of you at Florence Congregational (and I do know our readership presence on the web is beyond that) have been fortunate enough to meet my mum. She rarely gets to come up because she, like me, (or rather I, like her) is a minister, and on Sunday she is in her own pulpit, tending to her own flock.
However, I bring her up because this week marks Mother’s Day. For those of us who are fortunate to still have our mothers and are blessed to have good relationships with our mothers, this Sunday is a day of blessing.
Some of us are lucky enough to have “adopted mothers,” or women who serve as motherlike figures who come into our lives later on. If any of you have heard me ever make reference to my godmother, she is one such woman. A former nurse, she is a missionary who came into my life in my twenties, who I credit for saving my life at a time when I was terribly ill and far away from my home country.
A woman—a mother who became an adopted mother later in life—is the object of today’s Bible lesson. I speak of the story of Ruth and Naomi.
Ruth is Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Ruth’s husband has died, and yet she clings to Naomi as a daughter clings to her mother. She loves Naomi as if she were her own flesh and blood and says—where you will go, I will go.
These are powerful words that have echoed throughout the Old Testament, into the New (after all, Ruth was the foremother of Jesus Christ), and into our hearts today.
What can we learn from Ruth? We can learn loyalty. We can learn devotion. We can learn honesty and strength of character. We can learn that love does not need to be selfish a forever “taking” from another, but instead a selfless thing.
We also see Jesus’s second commandment at work—to love others. This love is a reflection of the divine, and a love this strong, this passionate, must surely be that.
So on this Mother’s Day, whether you are celebrating it with your mother, an aunt, a sister, a friend, a daughter, or someone else close to you—remember the nature of Ruth’s Love for Naomi. Remember her selfless love, where she put the woman she called “Mother” above herself, so much so that she put her very life in Naomi’s hands, and think of the women in your life and how they, too, are deserving of such love.
Although our American calendar only honors mothers one Sunday out of the year, remember that our mothers and the women in our lives deserve our love and respect every day of the year, just as Jesus commanded us to love selflessly from our hearts every day of our lives. Still, I’m sure your mum (just like mine) will enjoy an excuse for flowers or a card or a special reason to smile.
Happy (early) Mother’s Day.
-Rev. Averill Elizabeth Blackburn