Lesson number…

April 15, 2012

I am often learning new lessons within this foreign culture. Some of these lessons are painful, some are comical.  I teach a women’s Bible Study every week and I often am confronted with new lessons.

The last two weeks we have been studying the book of Ruth, which has shown me once again that Yahweh continues to show up and create a refuge for the outcasts. Ruth seems to be less about a romantic love story and more about the steadfast love Yahweh tries to share with His people. Ruth and Boaz are powerful examples of this divine steadfast love during a time of moral and spiritual destitute.

So, we get to the end of the book on Thursday night and I ask the question; Well what did you all learn from this story?

Now, I must bring up some important factors before continuing to the answer that I was given. My women’s group is made up of women who are in their fifties and up, and many of the women who are in their fifties are mentally much older. I am by far the youngest women in the whole church. 75% of these women have never lived anywhere but their hometown, which is no bigger than ten thousand people. I have one Mexican American within my group, the rest are Caucasian, and are not friendly toward outsiders.

I give you a small glimpse of their worldview so that you may understand the generation dialogue.

Now to the answer: what these women gleaned from this powerful story of redemption and love is that the “younger generation” are all entitled brats, who don’t work for anything and are not loyal to their families. Ruth of course, was a young women, who was very loyal to her mother in law, and worked hard to get where she got to. When I confronted this generational accusation by suggesting they meant my generation, I was quickly told “no, it has nothing to do with you…”

So, being my confrontational self, I denied them the right to complain about another generation. I spoke into the text and stated that the beauty of the book is that it’s not about how hard Ruth works, but that God provides and protects Ruth and Naomi because of his steadfast love for them. I then went and preached on how we as the people of God have the opportunity to give to the less fortunate all of the time because we know and want to take part of this steadfast love.

As I stated these things I noticed complete silence from the group. I had touched a wound and would probably hear about it later, but I had learned two lessons in that moment. The first being that when we, no matter young or old, accuse another generation of a crime, we are dividing the church. I try really hard to respect every elderly person I meet, while still keeping in mind that our worldviews are very different.

The second lesson I learned was that when someone makes an accusatory statement against a generation, they are usually thinking of someone specific within their own lives. This happens to be the case, at least within my Bible Study. For two years I have sat and listened to these women, and learned about their family dynamics, and I know now that when someone makes a broad statement they are thinking of a specific person within their family who is causing chaos.

Knowing these two lessons teaches me how to better pastor these women in their family situations, while still trying to let the text win.

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