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Taking Care of the Poor

The story of Ruth and Naomi, part 3

by Charmian Roberts

Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools

Aims

To look at the importance of caring for the poor.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a shopping bag containing items such as fruit, vegetables and small packets of food. The bag should have a hole in one corner that is large enough for the items to fall out of it.
  • You may wish to gather some images of wheat and barley and the ways in which they were harvested in the past and today, such as:

    - wheat, at: http://tinyurl.com/z5yqcj4
    - h
    arvesting by hand, at: http://tinyurl.com/jp9mdzb
    - modern harvesting, at: http://tinyurl.com/ju2244o

    This is optional, but if you do include images, ensure that you have the means to display them during the assembly and check copyright.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Bible story in the passage Ruth 1.1-17, which is about when Ruth was a good friend to Naomi. You can either use the version of the story given in the 'Assembly', Step 3, or retell it in your own words.
  • If you are using this assembly as part of a series, you may wish to refresh your memory of the previous ones - ‘Life has ups and downs’ and ‘What makes a good friend?’ - to recap the first and second parts of the story in the 'Assembly', Step 3.

Assembly

  1. Show the children your bag of shopping and explain that you have just been to the shop. Point out that you are going to store the bag in the corner while you lead the assembly and you would like them to remind you to take it with you at the end.

    As you carry the bag to the corner, 
    ensure that items fall out of the hole in the bag. Ask some of the children to help you pick up the dropped items. Comment that you are glad the shopping didn’t fall out of the bag on your way from the shop or you could have lost it!

    Explain that the story today is about people who deliberately didn't pick up food that dropped on to the ground so hungry people would have something to eat.
  2. Ask the children if they have heard that there are people in the world who are hungry. Also ask them how people who are hungry might be able to find food. See if they know about charities or organizations that help hungry people.

    Explain that the story today shows us an example of one way poor people were cared for at the time described in the Bible.
  3. If you are using this as part of a series and wish to do so, recap the first and second parts of the story ‘Ruth and Naomi’ from the assemblies ‘Life has ups and downs’ and ‘What makes a good friend?’

    Ruth and Naomi (continued)

    Ruth and Naomi travelled for many miles until they eventually reached Bethlehem. When they arrived, they were hungry and tired and wondered where they could find food and shelter.

    Ask the children for ideas as to where Ruth and Naomi might find food and shelter. Listen to a range of responses. Brief discussion might include suggestions such as kind neighbours, that they could get a job and buy food and so on. Explain that at the time described in the Bible, it was usually the men who worked to earn money. So, families that had no male members were often very poor and unable to buy food. 

    Set the scene by saying that when Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem, it was harvest time. If using, display the images of wheat and barley and briefly describe how they were harvested in the past and today.

    Continue with the story.

    As we know, Ruth cared very much for her mother-in-law Naomi and she wanted to be able to provide food for them both. Suddenly she had an idea! She would go out into the fields where the men were harvesting and collect any of the crop that was dropped by them.

    Say that your shopping bag with a hole reminds you of something that happened in Israel all those years ago. God had told the people that when the workers harvested the crops and some of it would fall to the ground in the process, as the crops were harvested by hand, it was to be left there for the poor people to collect and use for themselves to make bread so they didn't starve. The name given to the poor collecting the crops that had fallen to the ground was 'gleaning'. Ruth was going to 'glean' to provide for herself and Naomi.

    Continue with the story.

    Ruth worked hard in the fields all day, collecting stalks of wheat that had been left on the ground. That night, Ruth and Naomi made delicious bread from the grain Ruth had collected by gleaning. All this was possible because God had told his people to care for the poor by leaving some food for them in the fields when they harvested the crops.

 

Time for reflection

Now we have machines to harvest our crops and people don’t glean in the fields. People from many religions believe, however, that God wants them to make sure hungry people have enough to eat.

There are many ways in which we can help with this. We could give some of our money to charities that help the poor, donate clothes to charity shops, donate food at supermarkets to food banks, hold fundraising events  . . .  

If possible, tie suggestions in with a charity event in the school or locally.

Prayer
Dear Lord,
Thank you that Ruth was able to find food for herself and Naomi by gleaning. 
Please help us to share what we have with other people so that everyone has enough to eat.
Amen.

Publication date: April 2016   (Vol.18 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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