Many of the greatest stories ever told are in the Bible: accounts of people healed, transformed and raised from the dead in the New Testament, and in the Old Testament stories of worlds being created, waters parted and even whales housing fear-filled prophets for three days and nights. What more could we want in an adventure?
And the more remarkable fact is that each of these extraordinary accounts is a true encounter between God and humans.
Even more wonderful is that the age of these awesome actions of God in the otherwise mundane lives of ordinary humans like you and I is not past. God is as active today as God ever was.
Note the end of today’s gospel when Jesus (who knew the Jonah story well) concludes his reminder of repentance using the example of Jonah stating: “There is something greater than Jonah here.”
I like Jonah because he’s a bit like me. I like the way that he recognises the call of God for him, then gets a bit scared and runs in the opposite direction. I like the way that God chases him, “with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace” (in the words of Francis Thompson’s The Hound of Heaven) “down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind.”
And I especially like the way that God managed to work effectively through the resistant and stubborn Jonah, since the real protagonist in this story is not Jonah, but the God who pursues sinners with love and merciful embrace.
Thanks be to God.
- Here’s something a bit different for the drive to work this morning. Francis Thompson’s poem. Don’t try to understand it – just listen as you might to music in the background, noticing the words and phrases that most speak most powerfully to you.