Sunday, September 18, 2011

14th Sunday after Pentecost -- Jonah

After finally arriving at Nineveh, Jonah reluctantly delivers the judgment against that great city.  But when God shows mercy on Nineveh, Jonah is angry enough to die.  God's mercy can be scandalous when it gets extended even to our enemies.

An excerpt from my sermon:

Then again the Lord tells Jonah to go to Nineveh.  This time he goes.  And when he gets to Nineveh, Jonah walks most of the way to the center of the city and preaches the shortest sermon on record.  Eight words “Eight days more and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  It is lacking on so many levels.  While many might rejoice if I gave a sermon of eight words, Jonah does the bare minimum, living by the letter of the law and certainly not the spirit.  He does exactly what God wants him to do and tell Nineveh that God is going to destroy them because of their wickedness.  Well he doesn’t tell Nineveh exactly that GOD will do it… he just says that it will be overthrown.  And now having fulfilled his duty he goes outside the city to sit and wait and watch the fireworks begin.

Except that they don’t.  because somehow someone heard him and his weak proclamation… and the story tells us that “the people of Nineveh believed God.”  This proclamation goes viral.  The people start talking and spreading the news.  They consecrate a fast.  Soon the king himself issues a decree that people should repent… that even the animals should repent.   And God sees that people have turned from their evil ways and God relents from punishing.  God extends not justice but mercy upon Nineveh.  And this has Jonah really angry now.  After all, THIS is Nineveh.  These aren’t God’s people.  They aren’t special.  They are not the ones that the Lord has made a covenant with.  These are the enemies of that people.  Jonah is so angry, because God is “slow to anger and abounding in love.”  “Mine first!” he objects.  

Or read the whole thing here.
Listen to it. 


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