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Books borders and belonging enough Grace kindness

Borders & Belonging

Front cover of the book “Borders & Belonging” by Pádraig Ó Tuama and Glenn Jordan. As read by Diane Woodrow

I have just read this amazing book – Borders & Belonging” by Pádraig Ó Tuama and Glenn Jordan. It is about the book of Ruth and how it relates to our times. Our times being Brexit and, because they are both Irish, about the border between northern and southern Ireland. But for me it meant so much more.

They talk about how the story of Ruth tells how the law was changed through the actions of Ruth, which to me means God is saying that these “rules” we read in the Bible are not set in stone. The book of Ruth is read by the Jewish people every Shavuot, which corresponds with the Christian festival of Pentecost. Shavuot celebrates the spring harvest and comes 50 days after Passover. Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to all people. Each year Jewish people remember, as well as the blessing of the spring harvest – which all who are gardeners know is so important as it comes at the end of the “hunger gap”, the time when there are just boring root veg that has survived over the winter – also remember this young woman from a despised tribe coming to their town and being accepted into their lineage and changing what was written in the Torah, which said that a Moabite cannot enter the nation of Israel. Yet at the end of her story we read that Ruth’s descendant is King David.

I think this is why she is included in Jesus’ lineage at the start of the Gospel Matthew – to show that Jesus came to remind us all that the law is not static, and I also think one of the reasons the Holy Spirit came on Shavuot is to show that again the law is not a static thing; that to follow God is not all about rules to follow but about grace and kindness.

As it says towards the end of “Borders & Belonging” “kindness is not constrained by rules” and that the law and traditions changed so that “kindness and grace is extended.” But how often are the “rules of Christianity” so fixed that kindness and grace are excluded? How many times have those in the LGBTQ community being told they are wrong and need healing? Or the young heterosexual couple who cannot afford to get married are told that they are wrong for wanting to live together? How many people feel they have to “clean up their act” before they can follow God?

How often do we, as church, hold on to the laws and traditions of our community because we think that is the right thing to do? When Boaz met with a man in front of the village elders who had, according to the Law, a stronger claim on the land that belonged to Ruth’s late husband, this unnamed man was willing to let go of that because he was afraid that his children would be outcasts as they could have been looked at as half Moabite, the despised tribe. As Pádraig says he was “willing to be poorer in order to be purer”. How often we do that – follow the right way but miss out on a bigger blessing because we weren’t able to share kindness and grace?

Interestingly around reading this I was on a long car journey and listened to a series of podcasts from Orphan No More, a community of Christians based in Bath, which were loosely based around the question of “do I have enough?”

Unless we can believe that we have “enough” I believe we cannot walk in kindness and grace. Am I willing to believe I have enough? Are you willing to believe it? Are we willing, during this Eastertide season to learn to walk more like Jesus – in kindness and grace?

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accepting being me gratitude mindfulness money

Enough Money

enoughmoneyWhat is enough? This fits in with my post on Success a while back.  What is enough money? I have always had enough money. I’ve never been really rich but have been really poor. I was on income support, the lowest level of benefit in the UK and yet I always had enough. It was in the days when one got a giro cheque and went to the Post Office to cash it. I would get it in small denominations and then have pots on shelf in my kitchen for various things; food, rent, electric, other household bills, clothes, books, trips and holidays. Holidays were always quite a priority. And I would put these little sums of money into these various pots and save up. We ate well and my kids were never hungry. I home schooled and they use to have swimming lessons and French lessons and we’d go off on trips and on holidays. In fact during this time we even went back packing around Greece. None of this was luxury. We had a railcard. We stayed in basic lodgings, ate basic food and had some fun. I had enough.

I have some friends who are in their late 40s/early 50s who have never had children, both piggy-bankworked in well paid jobs, have a house with land in Surrey/Hampshire, must have pensions – probably salary linked ones – and yet they worry about their retirement that they will not have enough. Yes they do go on holiday and have nice things but they worry. They don’t have enough. I also know people on benefits who don’t have enough, who get into debt, who’s children go hungry.

On both ends of the financial scale there are those who have enough and those who don’t. In this I am not condemning those with money or those without. Also I have not always been so content with money. There are times I lie in bed and night and worry about whether we will have enough if … And it is that “if”. In fact we were talking the other day and conversation moved round to “we should rent that other room if I’m not working any more.” But he is working and when/if he isn’t then we shall worry about it then. I suspect we will just change what we spend money on.

Well off is a state of mind not necessarily to do with how much money you have. As a follower of Jesus I think I should learn to be content with what I have, generous whether I 77d5537cfb83c3b1e0edb8a96cbe4c06have much or little. I’m not sure I am and sometimes when I have more then I worry about having enough more than when I have little.

What I would love to do is to know how to contain this feeling of satisfaction with what I have but also be able to pass it on to others.