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Jesus’ Ancestry – Ruth

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The Reading: Ruth 1:14-19, 4:13-22

“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife (4:13) RSV

The third ‘notorious’ woman in Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus is Ruth: “Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth” (Matthew 1:5). Not only was Ruth a Moabitess, that is a non-Jew, but Boaz was the son of a prostitute, Rahab by name!

Yes, Boaz was the son of Rahab the harlot who hid the spies in the land of Canaan. This remarkable lady of faith married an Israelite called Salmon. No doubt she brought up her boy to be non-judgemental and inclusive. After all she had been included despite her past and being a Canaanite. Thus when Boaz met Ruth, the foreigner, gleaning in his field, he did not reject her. Indeed he was able to respond to her modesty and her beauty.

Ruth had come from Moab where her mother-in-law, Naomi, had lived with her husband, Elimelech, because there had been a famine in Israel. Whilst there, her two sons had married two local girls, Ruth and Orpah. But after Naomi’s husband and two sons died she returned home.

At first the two widowed daughters-in-law wanted to go with her, but only Ruth stayed the course. She memorably said: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (v.16). She was a true proselyte and left her old land, people and beliefs, accepting the people of God and their beliefs.

Ruth arrived in Bethlehem with her embittered mother-in-law, but her beauty of spirit and her hard work started to transform the situation. Finally the wealthy farmer Boaz spotted her, and romance ensued. He was willing to marry her and take on responsibility for Naomi. They made a noble and exemplary couple. In due course they produced a son, Obed. And later a grandson appeared who was to be called, Jesse, and finally a great-grandson called David!

Thanks you Lord that you look not on the outward appearance or background, but on the heart. Renew my heart and put a right spirit within me. Amen. 

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1 How did Ruth benefit her mother-in-law, Naomi?

Ruth 4:14-16

2 Which foreigner returned to give praise to God?

Luke 17:11-19

Thank you Paul

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This is the final Sunday of Paul’s curacy at St Mary’s. He will be saying goodbye to us at each of the three services.

We thank him for all the ministry he has given here which has been so appreciated.

After the 10.00am service there will be coffee followed by a bring and share lunch.  at this time Paul will be presented with a gift from the parish.

Paul will begin his ministry at Water Orton on 11th  February when he will be inducted. There is a large group going up by coach to support him. If you would like to join us then you would be most welcome. Please see a Church Warden to book your place.

The Service of Institution begins at 7:00pm.  The coach will leave from outside the church at 3.15pm. The return journey will start at 9.00pm, so we should reach Taunton just before midnight. Please will anyone who may require help getting home at that time approach the Churchwardens, who will seek volunteers to offer lifts.

Coffee Shop Listeners

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This Sunday (13th) we commission the Coffee Shop Listeners who will start their ministry immediately. Look out for them in the coffee shop and at the back of church on Sunday mornings.

If you feel you would welcome their company do chat with them.

This new initiative was first mooted at the PCC Away Day last year and we are thrilled to see it come to fruition.

Taunton Street Pastors

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TAUNTON STREET PASTORS are starting a training course on Monday 14 January at 7.00 pm at North Street Church, Taunton.

There is more information at the back of Church.

Churchyard Parking

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As many of you know, we were very disappointed to see the Churchyard grass so churned up after a recent wedding blessing. We are most grateful to John and Nik who have begun some remedial work. This incident has made us realise that we need a tighter management plan for this area and this will be debated at PCC on 15th January (PCC members please think about this particularly).

Please do not park in this special area unless you are on church business.

Thank You Sue

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We are very pleased that Sue Goddard has taken over the role of Advertising Manager for the magazine from Steve Jenkins. Thank you Sue. We also thank Steve who has built up the advertising significantly and helped to contribute greatly to the updating of the magazine over a number of years.

5 Star Inspection Rating!

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The Coffee Shop has been inspected by Taunton Deane Environmental Health Officers and we have received the maximum 5 stars in the health and hygiene rating. This is wonderful news and a tribute to the volunteers who work so hard to keep serving our church community. Checking the fridge temperature, training volunteers (thank you Shirley), keeping a log, and keeping the area clean and tidy (thank you Nick) have helped us achieve this.

Jesus’ Ancestry – Rahab

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The Reading: Joshua 2:1-21, 6:22-25

“a harlot whose name was Rahab” (2:1) RSV

The second woman mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus is Rahab: “Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab” (Matthew 1:5). Next week we shall look at Boaz and his wife Ruth, but today Rahab ‘the harlot’ is our subject.

Is it not interesting how many people in the Bible are labelled by their ‘unfortunate’ past? For instance, Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15), or Simon the Leper (Matthew 26:6). So Rahab, despite her faith in helping the spies sent by Joshua into the Promised Land, has always been called ‘the harlot’. Perhaps it is helpful, if somewhat humbling, to be reminded of where we have come from. We are what we are because of grace. Or as a modern saying puts it: “There but for the grace of God go I”; in other words, if God hadn’t intervened Rahab would have continued to be a harlot.

Of course being a harlot meant she was the ideal person to hide the spies! Many men came and went into her house, and who would be counting? Thus even in the midst of her unsavoury lifestyle she was used by God to achieve his purposes. But of course she was not just a prostitute, she was a woman in touch with what God was doing. This should not amaze us. It is often not the churchy people or the theologians who are more in tune with truth, justice and the movement of God.

As Jesus said: “the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you (i.e. the chief priests and elders of the people)” (Matthew 21:31). This does not mean that unrepentant sinners enter the Kingdom, but that those people whose lives are in a mess tend to know it and admit it. They are therefore more honest and open to the truth. Those who think they are righteous may miss the boat.

Jesus was not ashamed of his ancestry, especially Rahab. She was a perfect example of the all embracing mercy of his heavenly Father. This God is our Father too.

Thank you Lord that you know me through and through, and yet you embrace me with your eternal love. Amen. 

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1 Why was Rahab saved?

Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25

2 How many spies did Rahab hide?

Joshua 2:1-4

 

Epiphany

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Sunday 6th January is Epiphany – a major feast day in the Church calendar.

Epiphany celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Christians commemorate principally the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles.

Today the Magi (probably from Persia and followers of an ancient belief system called Zoroastrianism) are better known as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings (although Matthew’s Gospel doesn’t mention how many of them there were).

Paul’s Final Service

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Sunday 13th January is Paul’s final service before he takes up his first living at Water Alton in the Birmingham Diocese. If you would like to stay for the bring and share meal afterwards, this is the last opportunity to sign up. If you wish to contribute to a leaving present, please see the Church Wardens.

There is still room on the coach for the trip to Water Orton on 11th February.  If you have already requested a seat please give your £19 as soon as possible to one of the Churchwardens.  This is not refundable except in the event of cancellation by the coach company.  If there are more participants than expected, we shall give a pro rata refund.  Details of the trip will appear in due course.

Please sign Paul’s farewell card at the back of the church after the service, or at the Bookshop during the week.