“Am I my brother’s keeper?” is the question rambling around in our hearts as we deal with reality right now – elections, pandemic, racial tension, immigration plus…. You name it and we debate it. But this question has rung out from the beginning of recorded Christian history. God created a beautiful world that is “good” in Genesis 1 and 2 and created a couple, human beings to care for it. But in Genesis 3 he has to confront them about their personal choices, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” And so we start passing the buck for our wrong choices. The “other” has influenced me. Personal failure in our first story with the need to return to the God who created us and knows what’s best for us, is shortly followed in chapter 4 with God again talking to us about our social responsibility, how we care for those we live with.
Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel, who like all brothers have different talents. One likes farming and one likes animals. When Abel’s offering is more pleasing, Cain senses favoritism, anger fills his heart, his “face falls” and ooops, one day he kills his brother. God sees and confronts Cain, “Where is your brother?” Cain, perhaps bitterly, responds to God’s honest confrontation with the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” So begins a second theme we will see running through out scripture and running through open debate even today in our modern society and our lives. How do we make society, interpersonal relationships, care for each other in a way that promotes all of us?
This month we will reflect on this theme as seen in the book of Ruth. I picked this book as it is a short, touching story of real personal dynamics involving families, death, racial tension, poverty and ultimately redemption as faith grows and unfolds in a God who leads and guides. To prepare our hearts, let’s reflect today on relationships where we are involved in care-giving, either giving or receiving. It might help to take a piece of paper and briefly jot down the advantages and disadvantages, highs and lows. Perhaps spend a couple minutes thinking of important people who have been care-givers in your life. Let’s not forget as we go to the polls tomorrow our government reps whom we will elect to care for our country. Lord have mercy.