So, I had to read about Jonah…

..because every time I drive down Waianuenue Avenue after work, the church signboard just jumps out at me. I think it is a Church of God, and each week they post the title of the sermon for the coming Sunday.

I first noted it about a month ago….”What can Jonah tell us?” I thought about that as I drove down toward the bayfront……and pondered smilingly if I would see a whale spewing a prophet onto the beach…..

The next week the title was “Jonah and the will of God.” “Jonah and living faith” the next and yesterday “What can Jonah tell us about prayer?”

Recall that Jonah was sent by God to Nineveh (current day northern Iraq) to preach repentence. Jonah was afraid to carry that message to the Ninevites, known for their aggression and cruelty, as he feared not only that they would kill him, but that they might actually listen to him and repent. So, he ran off on a boat.

That didn’t work…..God followed him. Jonah did go to Nineveh. He did preach repentance. The Assyrians (Ninevites) did repent. And God, true to his word, did have mercy on them.

And Jonah had a snit fit, stomping off to the desert to pout that the enemies (Assyria) of his people (Israel) were spared certain destruction.

And I am reminded again, that God’s ways are not our ways.

Jonah 4:1-3: But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

My sense of “fairness” demands that the good guys should win and the bad guys should have puffin poop dropped on their heads (listen to today’s airing of “Wait, wait, don’t tell me” for THAT reference…..). But God, who is compassionate, slow to anger and merciful……knows better than I.

It is interesting to read Jonah in conjunction with last week’s Gospel lesson: Matthew 18: 15-20: “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Pastor Randy ended the Bible study last week with the question: “like Levi the tax collector, or like the gentile Roman centurion who begged for healing for his daughter……?” ….and who both received mercy from a compassionate and patient God.