July 4 2021
The Rest Of The Story: Jonah & The Whale
Rev Jessica Wright
This is a story about a reluctant prophet swallowed by a whale, but the rest of the story is how a Jewish nationalist was forced to extend God’s mercy to those he hates most, challenging our human understanding of justice.
1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.
4 But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. 6 The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.”
7 The sailors said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose account this calamity has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 “I am a Hebrew,” he replied. “I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them so.
11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. 14 Then they cried out to the LORD, “Please, O LORD, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.
17 But the LORD provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Call to worship
The word of God came to Jonah
The word of God comes to us
Where God calls us
The truth of God
Our neighbor and our enemy
As we have been forgiven
Receive grace upon grace
Overflowing from the fullness of God.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION & PARDON
Holy God, sometimes we would rather proclaim death to our enemies,
than see them forgiven and redeemed.
Forgive our hardness of heart, O God,
and our reluctance to see your divine image
in those who hate and despise us.
Teach us to love our enemies,
that our lives may proclaim your truth—
that love is stronger than hate,
and mercy is greater than vengeance.
We ask this in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.
One: Merciful God, what a blessing and privilege we share
here in this sacred space and among this loving community.
Beloved of God, hear this good news –
Christ reconciled us to God while we were yet sinners,
proving God’s love toward us.
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.
ALL: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.
Glory to God.