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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Epiphany 3 Year B RCL January 25, 2015

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62:6-14
1 Cor 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

62them. They make an offering to God and make a vow to God. Jonah, the reluctant evangelist, has helped them to begin their journey in faith. Then, as the sea becomes even more unruly, they throw Jonah overboard.

The scriptures tell us that a great fish swallows Jonah. We most often picture it as a whale, even though whales are not fish but mammals. Jonah is stuck in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, just the period of time to get a new perspective on things, just the time span to lead us from death to new life. In some of the most moving and powerful words found in the Bible, Jonah prays to the Lord. He thanks God for saving him. God tells the fish to spit Jonah out onto dry land right where he began.

Immediately, God calls Jonah a second time to go to Ninevah and call the people to repent. That is where our reading begins today.

Jonah does not want to preach to Ninevah because he feels that the people of this city are so evil that that they do not deserve to hear the word of God and they are not worthy to receive God’s mercy. So his message does not mention God’s mercy or forgiveness. It is a simple and dire threat” “Forty days more, and Ninevah shall be overthrown!”

The text leaves out a crucial part of the story. The king of Ninevah is a good theologian. He hears the message and he immediately takes of his robes, puts on sackcloth, and sits in ashes. He proclaims that all the people must repent and pray to God. And they must turn from violence and anger. That is what their sin was—violence and anger. And they do repent—from the king down to the lowliest peasant. Everyone in this superpower city repents.

God does not send a disaster upon them. God is merciful to them.

Jonah is upset that God would show mercy to the hated people of Ninevah. He actually goes into a big funk over this. But the reluctant evangelist has converted a city of 120,000 people. The book of Jonah ends with an affirmation that God is a God of mercy. I share this story because I think it is a wonderful story and because it has at least three powerful messages. One, when God calls, it is good to say Yes. Two, God can communicate God’s message of love and mercy even through a disobedient messenger. Three, God reserves the freedom to extend mercy to everyone, even enemies. Biblical scholar Bruce Metzger writes, “With skill and finesse, this little  book calls Israel to repentance and reminds it of its mission to preach to all the nations the wideness of God’s mercy and forgiveness.”  (Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 1186.)

In our gospel, John the Baptist has just died. John was Jesus’ cousin, someone Jesus loved deeply, someone who faithfully prepared the way for our Lord. This was devastating news for Jesus. Yet he summoned powerful faith and perseverance and took the next steps in his mission. He called Peter and Andrew, James and John. He called them into his kingdom a kingdom very different from the kingdoms of this world, He called them into his shalom of peace, healing, and justice. Unlike Jonah, they were not reluctant. They  immediately gave their lives to this vision of shalom and followed Jesus.

God is calling us to build God’s shalom. No one is beyond God’s love. The sin of Ninevah was violence. In cases of domestic violence, we need to keep victims safe and call offenders to accountability. That means that offenders need to stop the violence and be under supervision to be sure that they stay on track, If they cannot or do not truly repent and change their behavior they will be contained.

On an international level, we are called to pray for our enemies and to remember that God is always reaching out to all of us. At the same time, as we did in World War II, and as we do in cases of domestic violence, as a world community we need to protect the vulnerable and contain the violence. Praying for peace does not mean that we just sit back. It involves taking action as well. I will not try to comment on what actions we should take because that is not what I am called to do. I ask all of you to continue to pray for the leaders of our country and of the world and for all the people of the earth as we work together to contain and prevent violence and make our world safe for all people.

As we answer our Lord’s call to be fishers of people, the Book of Jonah has a message for us. God is constantly reaching out in love, and God is able to touch the hearts of all God’s children.   Amen.

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