Sunday 31st October 2021
23rd Sunday after Pentecost

Ruth 1:1-18; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:11-14 Mark 12:28-34

(Alternatives: Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Psalm 119:1-8)

The book of Ruth is rooted in the world of work. It is because of economic recession, caused by famine, that Elimelech and his family leave Israel; it is in the Barley fields of Boaz that Ruth finds hope and companionship, and at the town gate, where deals were struck and trade was centred, that Boaz made public his intent to marry her. But at the heart of this narrative is covenant, expressed by Ruth in her commitment to Naomi, but present at almost every turn as the story unfolds.

It is covenant that dominates the content of the other readings. The Psalmist speaks of a trust in God, above any earthly entity; a message that Elimelech failed to heed as he deserted the land of covenant when its harvests began to fail. Hebrews speaks of the covenant made by Christ, our great High Priest, while Mark reminds us that at the heart of the law and the prophets is a simple covenant call to love God with every part of our being, and to love our neighbour as ourself. The Deuteronomy passage earths these words in history, and introduces a law code that touches many everyday issues including public health, food hygiene, trading standards and agricultural production.

Each Old Testament reading in its own way forges a deep connection between the concept of being a covenant people and the every day lives that we live. So the simple challenge of these narratives is to ask how our identity today as God's covenant people affects the way we go about our daily work, the decisions that we make, and where our security ultimately lies. We might pray today for all those who are facing difficult decisions at work, those who have been displaced through work, those who are migrant workers, and those who are adversely affected and threatened by economic uncertainty and downturn.