This sermon was preached on August 31, 2014 at Winnetka Presbyterian Church. My text was Ruth 4:1-22. You can listen to it, and read it, below.
I’m sure that many of you, as you were listening to this story this morning, were amazed at how similar it was to many of your own weddings, beginning of marriages.
So many romantic and meaningful rituals…
- The haggling over a piece of land
- The redeemer taking off his sandal and giving it to Boaz
- A proclamation from Boaz that the sale is final and Ruth is his?
Kind of gives you warm fuzzies all over, right?
There is much about our story this morning that clearly reminds us that this is an ancient story – a story that comes right out of another world. The ritual of one man taking off a sandal and giving it to another, something done to symbolize a binding transaction, this ritual we are told in the text, was something that was done in Israel in the former times, it was already something old and ancient.
We should also acknowledge that to our modern ears, hearing a story where a woman is treated as a piece of property, something to be haggled over and purchased…well, this is certainly not something that we are accustomed to, and it probably makes us feel a little uncomfortable. In those days, if a woman’s husband died, it was customary for his brother to marry the widow; otherwise, there would be no heir to inherit the land.
But while much of this story sounds a bit foreign to us here in the North Shore in 2014…this is also a heart-wrenching story filled with the familiar stuff that we all experience in our own lives.