Today Sr. Wantabee is speaking at a Mother Daughter banquet. This is a wonderful time to rethink one of her favorite parts of the Bible, the blessing the elders give Ruth, daughter-in-law of Naomi, who is to marry Boaz. Life is so messy, this story is so messy, and the blessing is messier yet!
The elders at the city gate, turn to Boaz, after the deal is cut and it is agreed he will redeem Naomi’s property of her deceased husband (this included Ruth, a piece of property to be inherited or bought!!) and give him a three fold blessing.
1. May she be like Rachel and Leah who built the house of Jacob.
Was Boaz already married and they are blessing poligomy? Was not Jacob tricked at the wedding, thinking he was marrying Rachel, he woke up to find Leah in bed with him and had to work 7 more years for Rachel. Truly these two sisters were happy together? And yet they somehow stuck it out (perhaps had no other alternative) and gave Jacob 12 sons. Sr. Wantabee would like to think it is the blessing of unity among the household of Boaz.
2. May she find honor like Rachel who was buried at Ephratha and be famous in Bethlehem.
What does that mean. Rachel, the beloved wife, died in child birth and was buried in Ephratha which later became the city of Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus. She was not buried in the family tomb. Leah, the legal first wife, was. In the furnace of relationships often parts of our dreams must be buried and given up. Sr. Wantabee had thought for 25 years in Africa, a struggling church worker and teacher, she would someday return to the USA and be recognized for her talents, what she had discovered in that crucible, start a new phase of life as a returning missionary. No. That dream has died. In the 25 years she was gone, missionary changed from “brave pioneer facing the challenges of Africa” to “crusader forcing one’s will on someone else, destroyer of culture, or worse yet, ‘evangelical’ guardian of moral codes.” No she had to bury that dream. At those death places Jesus is able to reach in and be born, comfort and redeem. She would call this point, integrity.
3. May she be like Perez born to Tamar of Judah.
Now this blessing is messy. Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, married to all three sons who did not give her children and who died, finally dressed as a prostitue and deceived Judah into sleeping with her and twins were born. The first reached out and a scarlet string was tied around his wrist but then he withdrew his arm back into the womb and the other twin came out, Perez, the overcomer. Perez is synonomous with overcomer, someone who is able to overcome all the things that would hold her back. Victory!
So today is May 1st, May Day. As a child, we would hold colorful strings and dance around a May Pole. Is not a blessing something like that? The women are the May Poles and Sr. Wantabee would bless them with three strings:
-May the God who created you and who loves you, bless you with unity as you love each other in the messiness of relationships.
-May the God who saved you and resurrected bless you with integrity and you deal with the realities of life.
-may the power of the Holy Spirit give you victory over all that would hold you back from becoming all God created you to be.