“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  – Mother Teresa

Peace is an illusive, fragile, and precarious thing in our lives and in our world.  What kind of peace do we seek?  Is peace the mere absence of conflict, or is it overcoming the desire to cause such conflict in the first place?  One of my guitar hero’s once said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then we will know peace” (Jimi Hendrix).

In November, we were called to contemplate the peace time that ensued after WWII.  In all reality, that peace was the absence of conflict, and only in short order once the world had a chance to exhale the ghastly breath of shock and horror of what it had done to itself  and so many nations.  Then we got on to doing more of the same.  Our headlines are filled with news that would drown out even Jeremiah’s cry in 6:14 when he calls out: “Peace, peace! But there is no peace!”

But the peace we’re after this Sunday is not simply the absence of conflict.  The book of Ruth proclaims a peace that is much more in line with Jimi and Teresa – especially the latter.

Would you say you have peace in your life?  In your heart?  In your soul?

Would you say your life is peace-full?

I wonder.  If you said yes, why?  If you said no…why not?

If you google the words “rape” and “news” you’ll get an eye full of headlines that are only hours old.  We might think of the allegations against Bill Cosby, the pending proceedings concerning Gian Gilmeshi, or a story closer to home – that of Rehtaeh Parsons.  Peace is a fragile thing for many women – at school or in the workplace, it doesn’t matter.  Ruth faces the very real threat of violence and rape, the very antithesis of peace as she makes her way to Bethlehem.

When I think of Ruth, I rather like a quote I once heard that ran something like, “we find peace not by trying to escape our problems, but by confronting them courageously.”

Ruth confronts her problems with absolute courage, determination, and faith.  After coming to Bethlehem with Naomi, it looks like the promise of food is a reality.  The barely harvest is happening in full swing as laborers head out to the fields to glean the grain and gather up food that will sustain them after enduring a very harsh famine.

That’s all well and good, but Ruth is a woman…a stranger in a strange land.  If you google anything about emigration, than you know how connected the bible really is to our everyday life.  All these years later, it’s still as controversial as ever to accept people who are labeled foreigners, aliens, outsiders…strangers.  Ruth is a Moabite whose people were believed to be descended from Lot in the book of Genesis.  Lot isn’t exactly a stellar example of a righteous person by Old Testament standards.  He’s involved in the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah and then goes on to have children by sleeping with his daughters.  And you thought the bible was so PG!

Tradition held that the Moabites were descendants of Lot.  How popular do think that would make you in Bethlehem? Imagine slapping that on your resume!

Ruth has to do something.  Naomi is too old and fragile to work the fields, even if she is an “insider” as an Israelite.  That means she’ll have to go out in the fields and work at the back of the line, behind the people who have a legal right to harvest. That’s usually the spot we reserve for foreign workers.  How many times have I heard Canadian’s talk about the need for jobs for our own people – why would we ever hire foreign workers?  In my observation, most Canadians don’t want those jobs, that’s why employers can farm them out for cheap labor to people who are vulnerable and desperate.  In doing so, profit margins fatten up in industries that go through workers like