Ruth and Naomi – intergenerational friendship at it’s finest
Many years ago I have vague recollection of watching a film about Ruth. To be honest I don’t remember that much about it but I do recall enjoying it and the storyline remained with me for some time.
Fast forward a few years when I began to take more interest in the Bible and there before me was the account of the remarkable and enduring friendship of the young Moabite woman, Ruth, and her mother in law, Naomi. Ruth is a key Biblical figure – not only is she one of only two women who have a book of the Bible named after them, the other being Esther, but she is named in the genealogy of Jesus ( Matthew 1 :1,5) as she was the great grandmother of David.
Ruth’s devotion to Naomi is inspirational. The older woman has lost not only her husband but her two sons, but even in her desolation is anxious that her daughters in law, Ruth and Oprah, return to their families rather than take their chances travelling with Naomi back to Judah. But Ruth cannot be deterred. She is completely loyal to Naomi saying “Where you go, I will go and where you will stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” ( Ruth 1:16)
This last phrase is truly transformational – Ruth has been brought up among the idol worshipping Moabites but such is her love for Naomi, she is willing to open her heart and accept God as her Lord. Her willingness to honour her mother in law is noticed by Boaz who in turn assures her of his protection as he can see that such sacrifices as Ruth has made will surely be blessed by God.
Boaz is a good man and he is anxious to ensure that Ruth and Naomi’s futures are safeguarded. The property laws of ancient Israel are complex to say the least but Boaz remains determined in his quest for justice and in doing so he gains not only land but also a wife – I do love a happy ending!
The story of Ruth and Naomi is one that exemplifies so many kingdom values – honesty, integrity, devotion, self- sacrifice, loyalty and met importantly love. Not just the romantic love that blossoms between Ruth and Boaz and which God blesses through the birth of their son Obed, thus securing the lineage to David and eventually to Jesus, but also the love between the generations. Ruth values Naomi above all others. It would have been easy enough for her to return to the security of her childhood home after her husband died but she chose to risk everything in order to remain with Naomi. Through her commitment to be a true daughter of Naomi, Ruth became a true daughter of Israel, a child beloved of God.
True friendship between the generations is a wonderful gift to the community and I can think of a number of examples for such warmth throughout our parish family. These bonds have grown deeper throughout lockdown through the contact that has been maintained between young and old. From the posting of pictures and letters from some of our youngest members to some of those slightly more mature, to garden path socially distanced chats, these friendships have been transformational in the difference they have made to the lives of so many at a time when it could have been all too easy for older people living on their own to become isolated.
Age is no barrier to friendship and friendship blesses all those who participate in it in so many ways, from the passing on of new skills, the sharing of stories and all of those aspects that enrich a friendship no matter how old we are.
Ruth and Naomi are a wonderful example of the blessings that having friends across the generations can make to all our lives, young or old.
Why not take a minute to give thanks to God for those of your friends whose ages are unimportant when it comes to the quality of the friendship you share and to pray for their well being and protection especially in these times when prayer is perhaps the greatest tool for connection of them all