페이지 정보작성자 카마리오한인연합감리교회 작성일23-11-18 22:45 조회42회 댓글0건
“As the barley harvest was beginning”
2023-1119, Ruth 1:19-22,
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! In this year of 2023, as we come together to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I extend heartfelt wishes for the abundance of God's grace and love to all our fellow believers. Today, as we gather in worship, echoing the sentiments of Worship Hymn 44 and Psalm 100, we find ourselves in the midst of the Thanksgiving season, lifting up our praise and glory to the Lord. Let us, in the spirit of joy, serve God and approach Him with songs of gratitude, reflecting on the grace we have received.
Our God is the One who created us, and we belong to Him – we are His people. Throughout the past year, we have lived by the help of God, and we have witnessed many instances of His grace, allowing us to reap and bear fruit in our lives. Thanksgiving has become a universal celebration in this land, in biblical history, many people observed it. From the early immigrants overcoming harsh winters to the indigenous people offering help, Thanksgiving has been a time of indescribable joy. In the Old Testament, following the teachings of the Scriptures, people observed thanksgiving festivals, known as times of gathering and feasting. They were called the Feast of Ingathering and the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Ingathering naturally signifies the meaning of Thanksgiving, but why was it called the Feast of Tabernacles? The Feast of Tabernacles involves setting up temporary shelters or tabernacles after a bountiful harvest and dwelling in them for about a week. Even during the challenging journey of the Exodus, the people survived, and they celebrated a season of thanksgiving for both survival and the income and fruits of their labor. In today's context, we, as believers, recall all the challenges of life, akin to the wilderness, and express gratitude for overcoming them through the grace of the Lord. "By the great grace of the Lord, we have come this far," we confess. Thanksgiving is a time to remember and be thankful for the journey, for the people who have journeyed with us, and for the families with whom we have shared the joys of life.
Thanksgiving is not just about giving thanks for God's grace; it is also about sharing the joy and gratitude of this day with others, as the Bible teaches us. "Rejoice the festival together," the Scriptures instruct (Deuteronomy 16:14). Let us be reminded to share our joy, income, fruits, and the grace we have received with those around us. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are already well aware of how to share love, yet, in changing times and generations, there are still many places in the world where our sharing with our warm and beautiful hearts are needed.
In today's reading, we hear the story of a family from the Book of Ruth – the family of Naomi. Let's delve into the passage starting from verse 19. "So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem." Before this part of the story, many details have been omitted, but we understand that this family faced moments of hope and joy as well as times of illness and hardship. Returning to their homeland, Bethlehem, during the barley and wheat harvest, they are welcomed warmly. "Is this Naomi?" the people inquire. Naomi responds, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me." The term "Mara" refers to a place the Israelites encountered during their wilderness journey – a place with bitter water. Although initially a site of resentment and suffering, it soon became a place of spiritual experience.
Moses and the people prayed with faith. "They cried out," it says. They earnestly prayed and sought God's intervention. God's response was to throw a branch into the bitter water, and its taste changed. Surely, the "Mara" moments in our journeys may be bitter and painful experiences, but even in those places, God's grace continued. In today's passage from the Book of Ruth, Naomi confesses, "I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty." Yet, with her devoted daughter-in-law Ruth, she embarks on a new chapter. The people of Bethlehem, rather than leaving this family in despair, show hospitality and care.
Beginning with the harvest, the people of Bethlehem allowed sharing the gleanings from the field. Thus, what Ruth gathered each day exceeded an ephah. Their words encouraged and strengthened her, saying, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!" (Ruth 2:11-12). They contributed to the restoration of Ruth's family and rejoiced in their success. They became supporters of Naomi's family, helping them rise again. On this Thanksgiving Day, this biblical account becomes a precious parable that we read, learn from, and hold in our hearts.
As we are aware of the current global situation through daily news, wars and disasters are causing immense pain. More and more people are facing greater suffering. We need more attention and prayer. On this Thanksgiving Day, let us offer our praise and thanks before the Lord, reflecting on the grace we have received with wholehearted worship. Let us remember that as some begin to harvest, there are families looking for helpers to lean on with empty hands. On this Thanksgiving Day, I wish for all our fellow believers to have a Thanksgiving full of abundant grace and to be a Thanksgiving where the hands of love are extended.