HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH
A Daily Dose of Good News
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
At 10:30 today, this devotional will be offered online atand will remain available throughout the day and the week.
For a printer-friendly version of today’s devotion, please click DDGN 20200421
Good morning! It’s Vicar Sara and it’s April 21st. Welcome to Tuesday- I hope it’s good for you! Our Daily Dose of Good News is from Jonah today, 1:1-17.
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.
Here ends the reading.
It’s an interesting text to read, as we celebrate Easter and the resurrection of our Lord. There might have been some aspects of the story which jumped out at you- in terms of similarities to Jesus- whether that’s the sleeping in the boat during the storm and being awakened from that or whether that’s being in this lifeless place for three days and three nights. There are many aspects I could focus on in this text- but that’d be a whole sermon! So I want to highlight just two or three.
I think it’s interesting that in this text, Jonah clearly hears what God wants Jonah to do, and decides: “Nope. I’m not going to do it. I’m going to avoid that. I’m going to put distance between that idea and my reality. I am going to do my own thing and go my own way”. That’s Jonah’s decision: to turn from God and what God is asking and telling Jonah to do. I think about how different that is from our Lord- who heard clearly what God wanted Jesus to do- in terms of his crucifixion. While Jesus might have had the same internal struggle and conflict as Jonah- in wanting to do something different and not have that reality; instead, Jesus did not turn away, but instead Jesus moved toward what God asked Him to do, what God told Him to do, and what God wanted Jesus to do. Jesus chose to be obedient and to continue on that path. Even though Jesus wasn’t excited about that idea, either.
I think it’s interesting that God does call us to confront, sometimes. I think it’s interesting that God didn’t tell Jonah- “Go fix it!” or “Talk the people into not being wicked.” God said: “Go and confront them. Go and tell them about their wickedness”. So God could engage with them and so God could eventually redeem them. Jesus, in His ministry, confronted sin. Jesus, in His ministry, at one point, turned over all the tables in the temple. It reminds me of a WWF wrestling match. He confronted sin, when He saw it. Confronting sin and wickedness is something that is important to God, and God may call us to do that at times. And in this quiet time of some reflection, I think it’s important for us to listen to God, in that time as well, because God may be nudging us to confront some things that are wicked- maybe we see that in people near and dear to us, or maybe we see that in people we don’t like, or maybe we see that in people we don’t even know. But it struck me, that yesterday’s news here in Columbus, was about a gathering at the statehouse. One component of that, was someone carrying a sign that was anti-Semitic and that is wickedness. That is rejecting an entire group of people as not being beloved by God and that is wickedness. That is a sinful reaction: to be hateful and discriminatory to an entire race, culture, and faith of a group of people. So, I ask that we listen for how God might be either individually or collectively, calling us to address wickedness, not asking us to “fix it”. But asking us to confront it, when God points it out to us, and raises it to us, and for us to walk toward that in obedience- if God is calling us there.
What I love about this story, is that Jonah doesn’t do it perfectly, right? Jonah runs off and tries to get out of it, and even in doing it imperfectly, God uses that experience to show these mariners, these bystanders, who God really is. God is powerful and mighty and we can never leave the presence of God. They learned that. They didn’t know it otherwise. So, God uses the imperfect actions of Jonah- in confronting others in their wickedness- to bring even more people into the faith. So, you don’t have to do it perfectly. But I’d encourage you to listen and to see if God is calling you to do things which may be difficult. But the good news is, even in doing difficult things, God is with us always and we never leave God’s presence with us. And that’s good news! Have a good day, everybody. Bye-bye.