Ruth 1: 6-18

This short act of worship has been prepared for you.  I invite you to share in a few moments with God knowing that other people within Paulton, Trinity and Chew Stoke Methodist Churches are sharing this act of worship with you.  We welcome our friends from Timsbury who will also be sharing our services during Revd David Winstanley's sabbatical.

Throughout July, the Circuit will be sharing in Bible Month.  We will be looking at the story of Ruth more closely over the coming four weeks.

Revd Martin Slocombe

Ruth Picture

Psalm 146

Praise for God’s Help

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul! 
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praises to my God all my life long. 

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
   in mortals, in whom there is no help. 
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
   on that very day their plans perish. 

5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
   whose hope is in the Lord their God, 
6 who made heaven and earth,
   the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever; 
7   who executes justice for the oppressed;
   who gives food to the hungry. 

The Lord sets the prisoners free; 
8   the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
   the Lord loves the righteous. 
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
   he upholds the orphan and the widow,
   but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 

10 The Lord will reign for ever,
   your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!


Hymn – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation

   1      Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
           O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation!
           All ye who hear, brothers and sisters, draw near,
           praise him in glad adoration.

   2      Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
           surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee:
           ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
           who with his love doth befriend thee.

   3      Praise to the Lord, who doth nourish thy life and restore thee,
           fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee,
           then to thy need he like a mother doth speed,
           spreading the wings of grace o’er thee.

   4      Praise to the Lord!  O let all that is in me adore him!
           All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him!
           Let the amen sound from his people again:
           gladly for aye we adore him.

Joachim Neander (1650–1680)


Open our eyes, O Lord, that we may delight in this new day.

Open our ears, O Lord, that we might hear the word you might speak to us.

Open our hearts, O Lord, that we may know your presence.

Open our lips, O Lord, that we may sing your praise.

Come to us, O Lord our God, in the glory of your presence.  Be with us in our time of worship.  And go before us in all that we do.  Amen

Loving God, we are sorry for the things we do that hurt you and hurt others; for the times we do less than our best, when we speak unkindly, and behave unpleasantly.  Help us to respect ourselves and one another, help us to look out for others, as Jesus cared for everyone he met.  Amen

As we explore the book of Ruth through the month of July, I encourage you to read one chapter complete each week.  This week we concentrate on Chapter 1 which introduces us to the plight of Naomi and Ruth.  The excerpt which follows is taken from Chapter 1.

Ruth 1: 6-18

Naomi and Her Moabite Daughters-in-Law

6 Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had had consideration for his people and given them food. 7So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. 8But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.’ Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud.10They said to her, ‘No, we will return with you to your people.’ 11But Naomi said, ‘Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.’ 14Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15 So she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ 16But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you
   or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
   where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
   and your God my God. 
17 Where you die, I will die—
   there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
   and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!’ 
18When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.


Hymn – When I needed a neighbour

   1      When I needed a neighbour, were you there, were you there?
           When I needed a neighbour, were you there?
                And the creed and the colour and the name won’t matter,
                were you there?

   2      I was hungry and thirsty, were you there, were you there?
           I was hungry and thirsty, were you there?

   3      I was cold, I was naked, were you there, were you there?
           I was cold, I was naked, were you there?

   4      When I needed a shelter, were you there, were you there?
           When I needed a shelter, were you there?

   5      When I needed a healer, were you there, were you there?
           When I needed a healer, were you there?

   6      Wherever you travel I’ll be there, I’ll be there,
           wherever you travel I’ll be there.
                And the creed and the colour and the name won’t matter,
                I’ll be there.

Sydney Carter (1915–2004)



The recent death of George Floyd in America has shone a light upon the discrimination experienced by minority ethnic groups within a wider society today in many places throughout the world.  As we start to look more closely at the story of Naomi and Ruth, the parallels with society today are clear.  Theirs is a story of migrants living in foreign lands.

Elimelech and Naomi were economic migrants.  They left their home in Judah at a time of famine, to make a new life for themselves in Moab.  Here they flourished, and even integrated with the Moabites, taking wives from among the local people for their sons, Mahlon and Chilion.  A close neighbour of Judah, Moab shared similarities in culture and language. However, the Bible records various conflicts and grievances between the two: Deuteronomy 23:3-6 excludes Moabites from the company of the faithful because of their failure to welcome the Israelites in the wilderness. The Moabites are portrayed as an unclean people because of the suggestion that they were the result of Lot’s sexual relationships with his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38).

Having lost husband and sons, and therefore any means by which she can earn a living to support herself, Naomi is left destitute, and seeks to return to Judah where she has heard that God is still provided for his people.  The society of which she was a part turns its back upon the widow, and her only recourse is to return to the country of her birth.   Naomi can offer her daughters-in-law no hope of a future, and pleads with them to also return to their families, as she is also trying to do. 

Is this an act of compassion by Naomi to save the younger women from an uncertain welcome in Judah, or is it the selfish act of the bitter widow who wishes to free herself from having to support her daughters-in-law?  Verse 18 records that “When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her”, might suggest the latter!

Whilst everything was going well, the mixture of ethnic backgrounds in the family did not seem to matter, but under the strain of despair and the loss of their menfolk, their differences begin to emerge.  Orpah, despite initially committing herself to Naomi, returns to her family and her gods, but Ruth gives up everything, even her ethnic identity and religion, to travel to Judah with Naomi.  As Naomi the migrant returns home, so her situation is transferred to Ruth, who leaves her homeland and becomes the migrant.

Orpah leaves the story in verse 14. She is loving and obedient, yet is often overlooked. Like Ruth, she is loyal; the only difference is that Orpah keeps faith with her people, rather than with her mother-in-law. Orpah cannot give up her identity and traditions.  Instead she turns her back on Naomi, and Ruth, the sister-in-law with whom she had shared a common life.

Put yourself in Orpah’s shoes for a moment.  What would you have done?

Verse 4 reminds us that Mahlon and Chilion “took Moabite wives”.  This was not necessarily a marriage in the way we might understand it, but the women became the property of the sons, probably as a means of uniting the family with the local tribe.  Orpah and Ruth probably had no say in this, but accepted it as their future.  But with the death of their husbands, they are freed from this bond.  Why would she want to go with Naomi to a foreign country in which her future would be uncertain?

Perhaps she was grateful to Naomi for giving her a “get out” so that she could return to her family?  For Orpah, familial ties outweigh any sense of moral obligation she might feel towards her mother-in-law.  But would she be welcomed back, as she would now be another mouth to feed?

Orpah’s decision is based on the sensible approach perhaps, on the security of her local surroundings, her family and her god, whereas Ruth commits to an uncertain future in a land that is unknown to her, and she places her trust in her mother-in-law, Naomi, and in the provision of Naomi’s God.

In a time of division, Ruth offers us the hope of repair. Personal reconciliations lead to wider restoration. Importantly, differences are not fully erased but form the basis of the story.

In reality, many of us might struggle to comprehend the sense of isolation felt by Naomi living in a foreign land, separated from her people.  Equally we might struggle to understand how the statue of Edward Colston in the centre of Bristol might open up wounds that have been passed down through many generations.  But we will all have experienced at some time what it is like to be the new arrival, the one who is different.

As we continue to explore the story of Ruth, we will begin to recognise that Ruth, the foreigner who is a constant reminder of Naomi’s misfortune, becomes the source of her great blessing.


Intercessions & Lords Prayer

Almighty God, we worship you as the source of unity and peace.  We pray for all people who are displaced and living in a foreign land, for all who struggle to know their identity, and for all who are haunted by the stories of the past.

We pray for peace and tolerance of difference, for the blessing that can be found in diversity, and for an acceptance of those who are strangers in a foreign land.

We pray for our families and friends, and for all those in need at this present time.

We pray for the churches in our Circuit, this week for Keynsham Methodist Church, and their minister, Jane, and for the staff and pupils at Kingswood School in Bath.

Help us, loving God to know your presence with us, wherever we might be.



Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power, and the glory

for ever and ever.



Hymn – O God, you search me and you know me


    1     O God, you search me and you know me.
           All my thoughts lie open to your gaze.
           When I walk or lie down you are before me:
           ever the maker and keeper of my days.

   2      You know my resting and my rising.
           You discern my purpose from afar,
           and with love everlasting you besiege me:
           in every moment of life or death, you are.

   3      Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,
           you have known its meaning through and through.
           You are with me beyond my understanding:
           God of my present, my past and future, too.

   4      Although your Spirit is upon me,
           still I search for shelter from your light.
           There is nowhere on earth I can escape you:
           even the darkness is radiant in your sight.

   5      For you created me and shaped me,
           gave me life within my mother’s womb.
           For the wonder of who I am, I praise you:
           safe in your hands, all creation is made new.

Bernadette Farrell (b. 1957)
based on Psalm 139



May God travel with you on your journey, be your companion at every step, be with you at your setting out and at your arrival, be present in your greeting and your meeting, and bless you through friend and stranger.

And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you, now and forever more.  Amen




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