This Sermon began with Jane reading the entire book of Jonah to the congregation. She continued...
This story ends with Jonah sitting outside the city of Nineveh, waiting to see what will happen. What we are not told is that Nineveh was a truly evil city. In fact, it was the capital of the territory that would completely wipe out the kingdom of Israel just a few decades after Jonah’s mission there. There is no wonder that Jonah did not want to go.
And yet this story of Jonah forces us to wrestle with the goodness and grace of God. This story of Jonah helps us see that God often works with us in spite of ourselves. God even cares about us when we are as stubborn as Jonah was. It certainly was nice of God to provide a shade bush so that Jonah could be comfortable while he watched Nineveh repent and be transformed. But he was so stuck in his own pettiness that he couldn’t even enjoy it.
But we can’t blame Jonah. We can be just like him. I think Jonah is a hoot. And so are we, just as stubborn and self-centered as he was. And we end up with questions, questions that translate into any number of situations today – Do they (whoever that may be at the time) deserve mercy? Do they deserve to be saved? Does it even matter to God whether they deserve it or not? Where is the justice in God’s grace?
There is no justice in God’s grace. God’s grace is not about justice, it’s not about being fair. It is simply about grace that comes from an inexplicable, unlimited love for all of us just as we are. And apparently that grace includes the animals.
Which leaves us with something else to wrestle with – the goodness and grace of God insists that we be, that we live God’s grace with all those around us, even our enemies.
The goodness and grace of God takes us into the belly of the beast right along with Jonah for three days where the truth about us becomes real, where grace becomes even more real. And no matter how far we try to run, our calling is to speak the truth of God’s mercy for all of God’s creatures. Jonah, you, me and the animals.