Rev. George Miller
Nov. 8, 2015
Greetings, and welcome to Bethlehem, our humble, small town that we are so very, very proud of. I have a story I’d like to share.
In my religion there is a word we like to use, called “Dayenu.” It means “enough.”
Dayenu comes from a place of gratitude and thanksgiving for all the things that God has done.
If God had only created the world, it would have been enough- Dayenu.
If God had only delivered us from Egypt, it would have been enough -Dayenu.
If God had only given us the 10 Commandments- Dayenu.
If God had only brought us into the Promised Land- Dayenu.
Simply put, Dayenu is about counting your blessings, being grounded and grateful for what you have.
I’ve been lucky to say that in my life I have had “enough.” I have a family. I have a plot of land. I have resources I can utilize.
Thank you God. Dayenu.
But not all people are so lucky. There was my relative Eli and his wife Naomi. Many years ago when a famine hit our town, there was not enough to eat.
So Eli and Naomi left and went to Moab, a foreign country in which the people do not look like us or worship the same God.
Things did not go well for them. First, Eli died. Then Naomi’s two sons married foreign wives. Then the sons died, leaving their wives with no children and Naomi with no grandchildren to carry on her husband’s good name.
You must understand the importance of babies and grandchildren to us people.
Children are a promise of the future.
Children are a fulfillment of God’s promise to our ancestors Abraham and Sarah that their family would be as plentiful as the stars in the sky and a blessing to all the families of the world.
As long as there are babies and grandbabies, God’s promises are able to be fulfilled. And who knows which child could turn into the King that unites the people.
Who knows which child could become the long-desired Messiah who will restore our people and turn us back to God.
So when Eli and his two boys died with no children, things looked really hopeless for Naomi and her daughters-in-law.
But eventually, there was good news: the famine in Bethlehem had come to an end, so Naomi decided to return home.
Ruth, her Moabite daughter-in-law, decided to come with her, pledging that she would never leave Naomi’s side, and that she would become a faithful follower of God.
Naomi and Ruth returned to our humble, small town right as the barley harvest began.
Noami was very sad. She had lost so much- her husband, her sons, any potential of having grandbabies…but she did have Ruth, and as it turns out, that was “enough.”
Although Ruth was a foreigner and came from a different religion, she had so many positive qualities.
She was loyal to Naomi. She was kind with her words and her actions. She was a hardworker.
Ruth would make any mother proud.
Ruth went to the field of our relative Boaz, and began to glean and gather the barley that the farmhands had left behind.
Ruth was diligent. She was not afraid to break a sweat. And apparently so was also quite a looker, because she caught Boaz’s eye.
There was instant attraction between them, and Boaz took extra care to give Ruth special attention and to make sure she was never harmed or mistreated.
It became clear that Ruth and Boaz were falling in love.
But there is a costume in my country: if a woman is left widowed, it is the responsibility of her husband’s nearest relative to marry her.
This ensures she is kept safe, well fed, and with enough. And if the new couple happens to have a child, their child is considered to belong to the 1st husband.
Even though he may be deceased, this ensures that man’s legacy and family tree lives on.
Now, Naomi was not interested in remarrying, but Ruth was.
If you haven’t figured it out, I was the closest relative, meaning I had the legal rights to marry Ruth.
And since there was a parcel of land that still belonged to Naomi, I would inherit the land Ruth came with.
But I am not a greedy man. In the Lord I already have enough- land, a wife and my own kids.
How much more does one man need?
A little piece of earth to call your own; where you can build a home, plant a tree and grow a garden. A wife to love. Children to carry on your name.
I’ll admit that Ruth was a beautiful woman and would make any man proud, but I was not in love with her.
But Boaz was.
So we met, and I gave up my legal right to marry Ruth and to have her land.
That simple act of unselfishness was perhaps one of the greatest things I have ever done, and I am so glad that I did.
Ruth and Boaz were soon married, and sure enough they had a child: a baby boy called Obed.
Obed has brought so much joy into our lives.
The birth of Obed has brought the women in our small, humble town together. They were there in the birthing room when he came into this world. They celebrated and sang songs and gave thanks to God.
The birth of Obed has also brought great joy to Naomi. For so long she had been so sad.
Naomi had endured so much- a famine, leaving behind her home, the death of her husband, the death of her sons, the years of being without a grandchild to carry on her husband’s name.
And now, now there is new life in Naomi’s household. There is the sound of baby gurgling, the sounds of baby laughter, the sight of Obed crawling across the floor.
The comfort he gives to Naomi as she holds him against her breasts.
Now with Obed, Naomi can once again say “Dayenu”, she has enough. She has a grandbaby that will carry on her husband’s name, a child that will carry on his legacy, a child that will carry on the promises of God.
The story of Ruth and Naomi is a reminder of how God is able to work through the most hopeless moments of our lives to bring us hope.
How God is able to take that which seems broken, dead, and destroyed and bring forth new life, regeneration and satisfaction.
How God can take what seems like the final chapter of our life story and say “But wait! There is more! So much more!”
In conclusion, I am thankful for all that God has given me. It has been enough.
I am also thankful that I did not allow greed to get in the way of Boaz, Ruth and Naomi being so happy.
And in regards to Obed- who knows? Perhaps he will be the child from which comes a King that will unite God’s people.
Perhaps from Obed will come the long hoped-for Messiah who will save God’s people and turn them back to the Lord.
That’s the thing about Dayenu and knowing you have enough- it can open up the door for so many, many blessings to unfold.
Amen and amen.