Many clergy expand the Lectionary offerings they provide to mourners or to engaged couples. We’ve read earlier in our examination of the Pastoral Care rites that preparers of the liturgy are not limited to the Lectionary options for the sick or dying. No such explicit instruction is given for weddings, but some pastoral ministers offer them. One of the occasional suggestions is this brief passage from the book of Ruth:
But Ruth said (to Naomi), “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! for wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Wherever you die I will die, and there be buried. May the Lord do so and so to me, and more besides, if aught but death separates me from you!”
My pastor suggests just this snippet, but I’m conflicted about offering more. Sure, clock-watchers like short liturgy, but Scripture should give them a little meat to chew on, don’t you think? What about adding Ruth 1:8-11a, 13-15 to preface the above passage:
Naomi said to (Orpah and Ruth), “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s house! May the LORD be kind to you as you were to the departed and to me! May the LORD grant each of you a husband and a home in which you will find rest.” She kissed them good-bye, but they wept with loud sobs, and told her they would return with her to her people.
“Go back, my daughters!” said Naomi. “Why should you come with me? No, my daughters! my lot is too bitter for you, because the LORD has extended his hand against me.” Again they sobbed aloud and wept; and Orpah kissed (Naomi) good-bye, but Ruth stayed with her.
“See now!” she said, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her god. Go back after your sister-in-law!”
“Wherever you go, I will go …” is a romantic notion, but how many people realize it is a gesture of loyalty and love of a woman for her mother-in-law? Still, thanks to Gregory Norbet, and David Haas perhaps, Ruth 1:16 has an association with weddings. Little do people know the romance and wedding actually take place much later in the book, but not until after taking her mother-in-law’s advice, dolling herself up, and taking a place near her inebriated and sleeping-husband-to-be. Perhaps this is why alone of all the books of the Bible, no pericope from Ruth appears in the Lectionary. We wouldn’t want to give out any inappropriate ideas, would we?
Faithfulness in relationships: this is really at the core of Ruth 1. A woman remains loyal to her dead husband’s mother and against all good sense, goes off to a foreign land and obliterates her prospects for a home with her own people. Naomi is full of practical guidance that, in a sort of Bible meets Lifetime story, nets Ruth a happy, if a bit unconventional, ending.
So what do you think? Thumbs up or down for a wedding, and why?