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On faith: What does love require?

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Rev. Lawrence Lee, pastor

United Church of Two Harbors

I don’t know what to do about thousands of children massing at our borders with the hopes of entry into the United States, and I don’t want to offer any simple solutions, because if there were one, we would have done it by now. I don’t know what to do, but I do know a story:

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Ruth was a young woman who lived many thousands of years ago. She was a Moabite who married into a Jewish family. When her father-in-law died and her husband died, she went above and beyond the call of duty to care for and attend to her mother-in-law, to the point of following her back to her homeland where she was a foreigner and a stranger.

She wasn’t mistreated. She was suspect. There was always the threat of exploitation and rape. But she continued to be faithful to her mother-in-law.

She met a man named Boaz, who took notice of Ruth and went above and beyond what the law required to take care of her, a foreigner but also a kinswoman by marriage. He made sure that she had food and she was treated well.

There’s a happy ending to this story. Boaz and Ruth marry and eventually become the great-grandparents of one of the greatest kings of antiquity, David.

This all happened not because people followed the law or what was expected, but because they went beyond custom and rules showing compassion and loving-kindness to others. They didn’t do what was expected, but went beyond what was expected of them. And the fruit of this extravagance not only benefited them and their communities, but also the course of history.

The love we show strangers makes a difference. That’s what I take from this story.

For those children at our borders, again, I don’t have an easy solution. But I do hope that there are courageous Boazes and Ruths out there willing to go beyond what the law requires to live out what love requires.

The Rev. Lawrence Lee has been the pastor of the United Church of Two Harbors since August 2003. His sermon series on the Book of Ruth can be found on his Facebook page: revlawrencelee.

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