Reading: Ruth 3 and 4
Theme: (How) do the rich and powerful enter the kingdom of heaven?
Some people still call it The Henderson. As much as they are grateful for the hospital’s massive renovation, to them it still doesn’t seem quite right to call it The Juravinski.
Nora Frances Henderson was an immigrant from England who settled with her family in Winona in 1913 before moving to Hamilton in 1917. In the city she followed her dream of being a journalist and also came to be an activist in support of children’s and women’s rights to health care. She was instrumental in the first appointments of women to the Hamilton Hospital Board, and in 1931 she herself as the first woman elected to Hamilton City Council, after which she also became the first woman appointed (eventually for 16 consecutive terms) to the City Board of Control. She died in 1949 and when a new hospital was built on the mountain, it was named the Nora Frances Henderson Hospital.
Charles Juravinski, after whom the hospital was renamed when it was massively renovated in 2010, is a former owner of Flamboro Downs who in addition to other charitable initiatives around the City of Hamilton, gave $43,000,000 to help renovate the Hamilton hospitals.
We recognize that in our society, naming rights (i.e. the power to be remembered and honoured) often come with success in business and the power of money.
But why do some resent it? Is it just sour grapes? Sentimental attachment to a heroine?
Or something more?
This Sunday we are reading from the Book of Ruth. In our day, this book might just as easily have been named (or re-named) the Book of Boaz, because he is the rich, respected, charitable landowner who steps in to save the day and keeps the door open for the eventual birth – a few generations later, of the boy who becomes King David. In other words, without Boaz’s charity, there might never have been a David and a kingdom.
For some reason, though, the name that has stuck to this story is that of the bereft immigrant woman he was charitable to – an outsider to the covenant community, who came to Israel in grief as an economic refugee and was known only for her personally sacrificial commitment to her mother-in-law’s well-being.
And does this Word say anything to us?