A Faithful Friend
The story of Ruth
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider faithful friendships.
Preparation and materials
- Draw large outlines of two people on a whiteboard, allowing enough room to write things inside them.
- Also on the whiteboard, write out the quote: ‘A good friend remembers what we were and sees what we can be’ (unknown).
- Note that there is an extra step at the end of the 'Assembly' for Church schools, which can be included or omitted as you wish.
- You will also need an image of sunshine and the means to display it during the 'Time for reflection' part of the assembly.
- Finally, you will need a glue stick or some glue.
- Do you know the story of Greyfriars Bobby?
He was a little dog who so loved his master that, after his death, he spent his days lying beside his grave in Greyfriars Churchyard in Edinburgh. The story of Bobby is one that teaches us about faithfulness. 'Faithfulness' means loyalty, steadfastness, always being there, being dependable.
- We would all like a friend like that, but sometimes it can be hard to recognize a true friend, one who is loyal and worth keeping by our side. Sometimes we can be disappointed in our friends and sometimes we can be a disappointing friend to others.
- Show the outlines of two people on the whiteboard.
Let’s listen to a story of two very different women from the Bible who had a rather unlikely friendship.
The story of Ruth
One was a young girl of about 19, the other a woman of about 40.
Write '19' on one of the outlines on the whiteboard and '40' on the other.
One had just lost her husband. The other was her mother-in-law.
Write 'young widow' on the outline with '19' written on it and 'mother-in-law' on the other.
One was from Israel. The other was from a different land and nation.
Write 'Moab' on the outline with '19' and 'young widow" written on it and 'Bethlehem' on the other.
One was young, with all her life before her. The other had lost her husband and two sons and asked to be called Mara, which means, ‘God has made my life very bitter’. Both were very sad.
Write 'young with life before her' on the outline with '19' and so on written on it and 'bitter' on the other.
The older lady was called Naomi and the younger Ruth.
Write 'Ruth' on the outline with '19' and so on written on it and 'Naomi' on the other.
After the death of her husband and two sons, the older lady, Naomi, had decided to go back to her homeland, Israel. She told her two daughters-in-law, 'Go back to your own countries and find new husbands.'
One, called Orpah, agreed and kissed Naomi goodbye. The other, Ruth, instead clung to her mother-in-law, saying, 'Don’t urge me to leave you. Where you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. Where you die I’ll die.'
Ruth was so determined that, at last, Naomi agreed. It wasn’t easy for Naomi to return home to Bethlehem. She had been a happy wife and mother when she left. She had had a lovely home and been fairly wealthy. Now she was coming back empty, sad and bitter.
Now bitter people are not easy to be around! Bitter people often harp back to the good old days. They often blame everything and everyone else for their misfortunes. They can be grumpy and miserable to be with at times. This was the person Ruth had decided to be faithful to - to love and care for. It cannot have been easy for her. There was no man in the home, who, in those days, would have earned the money to keep them, she had no job and, on top of all that, I think many people would have wanted to avoid Naomi, so would have avoided Ruth, too.
Despite being in this quite desperate situation, Ruth cared for her mother-in-law, was a friend to her at all times and always did as she asked. In the end,, things turned out very happily because a relative of Naomi’s saw Ruth’s lovely qualities, fell in love with her and married her - and it wasn’t long before Naomi became a grandma!
- This lovely story can teach us much about faithful friendship.
Ruth knew that her mother-in-law had once been a kind and happy woman. It was the hardships her life had brought that caused her to become sad, angry and bitter. Underneath, she was still the same person.
Show the quote on the whiteboard and read it out.
‘A good friend remembers what we were and sees what we can be’ (unknown).
On days when our friends are grumpy and unkind, hurtful and unfaithful, we - like Ruth - can try to remember what they were and can be again.
- For Church schools.
Christians believe the Bible tells us that God is like this. He loves us at all times. He knows what we are and what we can be. He is a friend who promises to stick by us forever.
Time for reflection
There are two kinds of friends we can be today.
Show the image of sunshine.
A 'fair weather friend' - that is, someone whose friendship cannot be relied on in times of difficulty, only when life is 'sunny', when all is happy and running smoothly.
Show the glue stick or glue.
An 'all weathers friend' - that is, someone who will always stick by you, rain or shine.
Thank you for the example of Ruth.
We too would like to be faithful in our friendships.
Please help us today to be like Ruth and stick by our friends.
'I will bring to you the best gift I can offer’ (Come and Praise, 59)