The Ones Returning: Ruth, Naomi, and Immigration Anxiety in Ancient Israel
Danna Nolan Fewell, Professor of Hebrew Bible
The book of Ruth constructs its female characters as women returning to a homeland. Ruth, a foreigner, “returns” to a place she has never been before. Naomi returns “empty,” with no resources to work the landholdings of her deceased husband. Both foreignness and survival drive the plot, placing the women at the mercy of an economic, and somewhat deified, “redeemer.” Moreover, the relationship between the two women is an ambivalent one, in which the body of one is used in various ways to sustain the wellbeing of the other. Following the lead of many scholars who date the story’s production in the post-exilic period, we will explore the story as an expression of communal anxiety regarding “ones returning” who bring foreign family members into the community’s midst and make claims on its resources.
Spirituality of Waiting
Cynthia Bailey Manns, Spiritual Director and Coordinator of the Spiritual Formation Certification Program
Whether we want to or not, we spend a great deal of time waiting…for a sick child to feel better; for results from a medical test; for a new job; for forgiveness; for congregational growth and sometimes for something we cannot name. How can we use our waiting time as a way to deepen our faith, our relationship with God? Using the book, Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting (Holly Whitcomb), we will explore the gifts in waiting – patience, loss of control, living in the present, compassion, gratitude, humility and trust in God – can help us become more aware of God’s presence in our lives.