Ruth 3:1-5 -- Naomi (estranged from her own people) and her foreign daughter-in-law Ruth are back in Israel widowed, alone, and desperate. As often happens in a time of scarcity and fear, the people are neglecting their calling to be hospitable to foreigners and to the needy. So Naomi counsels her daughter-in-law to help them survive in the only way available to them -- by making herself sexually available to a rich kinsman in the hope he will marry her.
Psalm 127:1-2 -- The only real hope for the homes, the kingdom and the world we build is God's good and mysterious will, not our own best but never-quite-good-enough efforts.
Mark 12:38-44 -- Jesus warns against lawyers and leaders who look good and sound committed to the right things, but who in the end just profit from their position and from others' sacrifices -- especially those of the poor, that make the whole thing work.
The Gospel story of the widow's sacrifice lends a poignant perspective to Remembrance Day, as we remember and share in the grief still felt in families of all the young people who risked and lost their lives in wars of the last century.
This poor widow has put in more than all those who are leading the people.
For all of them contributed out of their abundance; but she
out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.
Throughout church history, this poor widow who gives beyond her means has been held up as an example of faithful giving. But Jesus' attitude is more one of sorrow and despair -- even anger, that she is put in this position at all, and that the lawyers and leaders take such advantage of it and of her faithful gift.
Perhaps we are reminded that even if history still is written by the victors, the history of God is shaped always by the victims -- all victims, and by God's radical love for them. The story of Ruth emphasizes this, because when we read it through to the end we find that this poor woman -- a victim of circumstance and prejudice who has to sell herself to a rich man in order for her and her mother-in-law to survive, is the very one through whose life and womb God makes flow the holy and messianic line of David and Jesus.
In our worship of God this Sunday we remember the victims we know -- the young men who gave their lives during the great wars of the last century, and the families that still grieve their loss.
And we wonder: who are the victims of war today, both within and without our circle of friendship and familiarity, whom God would also have us remember? Is it somehow through them and their story today that God makes flow the healing and saving love that heals and saves all the world?