“Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10)
“We are invited to glean!” announced Meg Pribeck. During the announcements highlighted in worship, Meg alerted our congregation that we could volunteer with others at a local apple orchard for a Farm-to-Food Pantry Apple Gleaning. To glean is to pick through the remains of a field after it has been harvested.
The gleaning opportunity this month continued a practice described in ancient scripture. Provision is made for the poor and the alien. Coincidentally, when Meg extended the invitation, the lectionary text for that Sunday featured Ruth and Naomi, after Ruth had been gleaning in the field of Boaz.
Ruth was an alien. She was a Moabite. When she followed her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, there was no guarantee that Naomi’s family would receive Ruth and allow her to stay. It was possible that Ruth would be turned away at the gate of the city, sent home, or worse.
Fortunately, Boaz, the cousin of Naomi, provided for the two widows. He allowed them to glean from his fields.
Ruth married Boaz. They had a son named Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David. David became King of Israel. Centuries later, Jesus restored the House of David as Messiah. Jesus’ legitimacy to be the anointed one was through his adoptive father, Joseph, who was a descendent of David. Thus, Jesus was a descendant of Ruth.
Ruth, a foreigner, an alien, was the forebear of the Prince of Peace.
Laurie A. McNeill is a member of Hudson River Presbytery and she serves as a Teaching Elder in Highland and Marlboro, New York.