This week, we hear the end of the story of Jonah. He has made a treacherous journey that included getting tossed overboard a ship and swallowed by a big fish. He’s faced the incredible challenge of preaching repentance to the bloodthirsty and horrific Ninevites, even if begrudgingly. The story picks up with Jonah gleefully waiting to see God destroy these terrifying neighbors and experiencing deep disappointment when God doesn’t act like Jonah believes he should. I love this story as a model for discernment. Jonah is tasked with answering God’s call to do something that scares him. His response is less than ideal and it leads to him running in the complete opposite direction God is calling him. Through the challenges and trials, God ultimately gets Jonah to where he needs to be. God’s work is done and God’s grace is experienced in the streets of Ninevah. Mission accomplished; all is well. Wrong! Jonah gets angry that God didn’t respond to the violence of Ninevah with in-kind violence, but he focuses his anger on a bush that once brought him comfort that has died. God calls him out:
But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?” -Jonah 4:9-11
Sunday after worship, we will gather in Fellowship Hall for a Casting Sunday. It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these, but the task is the same as Jonah’s task: discern what God is calling us to do. Most of us feel strongly about our congregation and the work we do together. In our time of discerning programming, events, and the regular functions of the church it will be important to not get angry about the bush. Instead, let’s focus on the ways we are called to celebrate God’s concern for us and all our neighbors. Fortunately, we see in the example of Jonah, we can trust that God will make sure we get where God wants us to be.
...Let’s go fishing together!
Grace and Peace,