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Week 4, Monday: Love

Ruthie Richards

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Ruth's Story

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Hi, my name is Ruth. As a child I lived next door to Mary. I remember my grandmother telling me all my life that Messiah was coming. I used to ask her who Messiah was. She would stop what she was doing and gather me in her arms and proceed to explain to me who Messiah was. She told me that Messiah was our promised savior. That he would come and set his people free. We all lived in anticipation of this day.

My father was an important man. He was one of the leaders in our temple. He knew all the laws of God by heart. He would make sure that we, his family, observed every one of them. It seemed rather confusing to me at the time.

One night not being able to fall asleep, I crept to the window and stood gazing out at the stars. Suddenly Mary's house began to glow. Strangely enough I wasn't frightened at all, but was rather in awe. Shortly after this night Mary got married to Joseph and they moved to the other side of town.

A few months later I again was having a difficult time falling to sleep. Once again I was standing by the window looking out at the stars. Suddenly there in the east was a star that was so bright it almost hurt my eyes to look at it.

A couple of months later Mary's mother came over to visit us and shared the news that Mary had given birth to a son and they had named him Jesus. She also told us that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had moved a long way away because some people were giving them a hard time.

A few years passed and the family moved back to town. Jesus and I spent many hours playing together. He was always so nice and fun to be around. As Jesus grew up he seemed to have a special ability to learn the law and the prophets easily. When he was 12 he got in big time trouble when he disappeared from his folks and ended up in the temple discussing the law with the elders of the temple. My father just about had a heart failure he was so upset. I personally thought he was over reacting to it.

From that day forward Jesus continued to teach and to preach and basically being a burr under the saddle of the elders. He was teaching things that at face value seemed to be contradictory to the law. By the time he was in his early thirties he was being called a heretic and was being accused of blasphemy.

I used to go hear him teach when he was close. I happened to be walking by the kitchen and actually saw him change water into wine at the wedding feast. I remember thinking to myself, "How did he do that?"

One day I was told that he had been arrested and condemned to die. I was among the crowd that watched as he struggled under the weight of that cross. Already weak from the scourging he took. I followed the crowd up to Golgotha and watched as they used these big old long spikes driven through his hands and his feet to secure him to the cross.

I was close enough to hear him say to the thief hanging beside him, "Today you will be with me in Paradise." Then in a loud voice he cried, "IT IS FINISHED!" And then he died.


My name is also Ruth. I grew up listening to folks talk about God and Jesus. I grew up with people who you are supposed to be able to trust, abusing that trust. I grew up hearing people talk about sin and the love of God on Sunday and then abusing me during the week. I grew up believing that I was unlovable by even God.

For surely had I been loved by God, His anointed ones would not have abused me. I had no problem believing that God loved other people, but not me.

After I grew up and left home another group of God's people began to love me. I remember many times doing and saying things just to see if they would turn their back on me. Thank God they didn't. It took many years for these people to undo the damage of those who had gone before.

Then, the first part of December of 1997 God was able to break through the rest of the wall I had built. He washed me from head to toe, inside and out with His love, with the precious blood of Jesus.

Now I know that Jesus is the promised Messiah. And that some day I too will be with Him in paradise.

(1) If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all the mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (3) And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (4) Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, (5) does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, (6) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; (7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (8) Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. (9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; (10) but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. (11) When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (12) For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also am fully known. (13) But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

1 Corinthians 13 (NASB)

~ Ruthie Richards
McPherson, Texas, USA

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Today's Scripture Readings*
[Psalms 61, 62] [Zephaniah 3:14-20] [Titus 1:1-16] [Luke 1:1-25]

Blessed Loving Lord,

Sometimes it is hard for us to recognize even Your love in the midst of all that the world around us forces into our lives. We look so hard to see someone, anyone who would walk with us on our journey. We know the truth of "scarcely even for a righteous person would another dare to die." And yet, Your Gift not only arrived on Christmas, He demonstrated Your love through His death and the power of His resurrection. Help me to know that it is for me.

Amen

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*These readings are adapted from the Daily Office of the Book of Common Prayer, Year 2.  For Year 1 readings, see Daily Readings, Advent 1.

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