Summary: Who is welcome in the church?
1Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. 2Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” 5She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.” Ruth 3:1 - 5 (NRSV)
13So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the LORD made her conceive, and she bore a son. 14Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.” 16Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. 17The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:13 - 17
24For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:24 - 28 (NRSV)
There are some old sayings that one person can start, and, it seems everyone within hearing range can finish. One of those sayings is ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN…….WORDS! Both texts speak loudly, because they are full of actions – verbs used to describe actions taken by people.
As we move through the texts this morning let’s locate these words and note the kinds of actions taken by people whose story God has preserved for us in Scripture. As always, we are reminded that the events depicted in Scripture are preserved as a model  for us, that we might avoid the mistakes and follow the good examples.
There are four people before us this morning; we examine their life and actions and then draw some conclusions about the way we ought to live our lives.
You have to go back to the beginning of Ruth to find out that Naomi was married to an Israelite named Elimilech; they lived in Bethlehem and had two grown sons. They moved to Moab, and within ten years both boys married and then died along with their father. Naomi was left with daughters-in-law Orpah and Ruth, and no way to provide for them.
Her life had fallen apart, so Naomi returned to Bethlehem. Orpah stayed in Moab, but Ruth travelled with Naomi.
Even back home the two women had no way to make a decent living in a male-oriented society where women couldn’t own property. They were left to scavenge the fields for leftover crops after the reapers finished. Naomi knew she had to come up with a better plan.
A plan presented itself when Ruth met Boaz, a distant cousin of Naomi’s deceased husband. The law of the land was that a close relative was supposed to marry the widow; Naomi urged Ruth to present herself to Boaz that he might assume the role of “kinsman redeemer”. Ruth would go to Boaz’ tent at night and uncover his feet, with the implication that she would lie in bed with him.
We have no custom that corresponds to that, other than to say that Ruth’s actions were not considered respectable. There was no courtship, or even arrangement. This was a bold and very risky move. Boaz was Naomi and Ruth’s superior socially and if he rejected them they’d be even worse outcasts than before.