“Jonah, Jonah — is it right for you to be so angry that I could love them so?”
What right do we have to tell God who God can find worthy of love and healing? Let God love, and all we have to do is love one another. Simple.
Oh, how simplistic is that! Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But the truth is, there are those who, for most of us, it seems impossible that God would love them so. When Jonah is sent to the Ninevites to bring a message of repentance (and therefore the possibility of forgiveness), he isn’t simply being sent to any old neighboring community. Ninevah was the capital of the Assyrians — a nation that had captured Israel and brought with them terrible, cruel war tactics (think Nazi cruelties and perhaps exaggerate it!) You bet Jonah felt justified in refusing to bring a word of hope and healing to them. “I’d rather die”, he says- and he means it! (This phrase (I’d rather die) is repeated throughout this short story so much, that if I were going to give it a title, it would be “I’d Rather Die”.)
What is it about God’s grace that sickens us? Come on, admit it. There are elements of God’s grace that we simply do not want to acknowledge even as a possibility. It seems outrageous, unthinkable, impossible that God could love “them” so dearly — and ask to us do likewise. “I’d rather die!” — and we mean it (more on that on Sunday).
So join us Sunday as we take a look at the funny, satirical, poignant story that’s much more than a big fish tale! Old hot-headed, self-righteous Jonah has a lot to say to you and me about the overwhelming, outrageous, ridiculous, gracious love of God.
Rev. Linda McDermott
Senior Associate Pastor & Associate Pastor of Worship