We have come together to remember before God the life of Ruth, to commend him to Gods keeping, to comfort those who mourn with our sympathy and our love and with the hope that we share through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God be with you. (And with you also) Hear the words of Jesus Christ our savior: From the Gospel of John: I am the resurrection and the life, even in death, anyone who believes in me will live Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always; trust also in me. From the Gospel of Matthew: Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Therefore, since we have been parted from Ruth, none of us will be separated from the love of God.
Let us Pray: God our comforter, you are a refuge and a strength for us, a helper close at hand in times of distress. Help us so to hear the words of our faith, that our fear is dispelled, our loneliness eased, and our hope reawakened. May your holy spirit lift us above our natural sorrow, to the peace and light of your constant love; through Jesus Christ our Lord- Amen
In a time of silence, let us make our personal thanksgivings to God for all that Ruth has meant to us. (silence) For her life, and our memories of and with her, we give you thanks. Amen
Acts 16:11-15 We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district[a] of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us.
When I first came to this church, the Dinsmores were among the first people I met. I was struck by their warmth and welcome- and unlike many who, when meeting someone new into their lives and have their arms crossed, waiting to see how the relationship develops, John and Lois had their arms were wide open. Those of you who know them, would agree you cannot escape either Dinsmore without getting a bear hug. Where does that kind of warmth come from?
I never had the privilege of knowing Ruth before her mind started to deteriorate, but I knew her well enough to understand that John must have gotten that warm welcoming spirit from Ruth. And as I searched for passages relevant to her, her personality, her spiritual passion, I was continually drawn back to the character of Lydia. Lydia doesn't get much attention in scripture, first, because she is a woman, and second, she is in the same books of the New Testament as the Apostle Paul, so… Yet Lydia gives us an example of someone who, like Ruth, was a little bit ahead of her time. She was a seller of purple, for one thing. Now, what that means is that the area of the world in which Lydia lived was famous for their dyes, and it was one of the only places in the world where one could buy purple cloth. Now imagine a market (In this case textiles) that is male dominated, as women had little to no rights at the time, and here comes Lydia. Lydia found a way to compete with the men, and surpassed many of them in her ability to make and market her product. We know that because we learn through scripture that she was not only well respected, but successful in business, enough to financially herself, a huge home, and to support the ministry of the early church.
Like Lydia, Ruth was a go-getter. After struggling with polio as a child, and beating that, Ruth pushed herself in school, went on to graduate college and to have a long and exemplary teaching career. She competed and succeeded in a male dominated world- breaking the mold of what was considered "normal" for women in her time originally pursuing science in college. She switched majors however, and found her passion majoring in and later teaching home-ec. But she also lived that passion- Ruth loved style- she often made her own clothes; soft, sharp, suits and skirts, (some even purple) and her sense of self (and self worth) helped her to create and care for others as well. She got involved in community groups volunteered her time and her talents in various capacities, too numerous to list.
The interesting thing is, that many of us, when we find our path in life- a career, some hobbies, a family, even community involvement, we kind of draw the line there. "My life is full," we say. But not Ruth. Life was not complete for her without a spiritual component. (Gas station story)Like Lydia, she stopped what she had planned, and she listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, went to church that Sunday, gathering with the others to hear the words of welcome and grace that come through Jesus Christ. Like Lydia sitting in the square with the other women listening to paul, those words touched her heart. She was moved to join the church. Church became a priority for her and for her family continued to be supporters of the ministry of FBC, but in addition, opened her home and heart to its people.
As Lydia continued to have a full life outside the church, while supporting, growing, and loving the church, Ruth also, carried with her a sense of adventure- and it lasted the whole of her life. Again, not worrying about the "norms" for women her age, she was fearless in her pursuit of learning, of experience! Her lively spirit and spunky nature led her to bike down the Danube in her 70s and she even traveled to India alone at 81 years young! No bounds could hold this woman. I love the last verse of the scripture passage: And she prevailed upon us. What that means is she triumphed, she won us over, she succeeded in giving us an example of what Christianity is about, and how we can all live for Christ. When I think about the full, bold life she lived- how she truly managed to "have it all," and gave of herself so generously, I think about the opportunities we may miss walking down life's path, being so busy with what we have to do next- jobs, commitments, meetings. It would have been very easy for Ruth to stay focused on the things of her career and family, and being a success there would have kept her busy and no doubt, successful. But she, like Lydia, allowed herself to stop and listen to what God was trying to tell her, and was obedient to the Spirit’s leading- and every time she did her life went from full, to abundant. What a legacy she left to her family. Is it any wonder John and Lois live life so fully and are so open to you and I? And she prevailed upon us! What better way to honor Ruth than to allow ourselves to notice what's around us, to be sensitive to the spirit working in our midst, and allow ourselves to follow that same spirit wherever she would take us.
Committal: Now therefore Ruth, we commit your body turned to ashes to God our Creator - earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the sure and certain hope of your resurrection to eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Benediction: God forth into the world in peace, be strong and of good courage, hold fast to that which is good, love and serve God with singleness of hear, allow your window to be open and your world to be turned upside down, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit. ANd the peace of God be always with you.