November 6, 2016 – All Saints’ Sunday
Jonah 1:1-17; 3:1-10; 4:1-11 and Luke 18:13
Today it’s Remembrance Day. It is a day in which at the 11th hour on 11th November in 1918 World War 1 came to an end and the armistice was signed, this date was set aside to honour those who fell in this war and its name used to be “Armistice Day”. Later in order to include all those who were killed in subsequent wars, the name was changed to Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth countries.
However, there is this human inclination to categorise certain people as on our side, and others against. There even tends to be a way in which we tend to view God’s love as limited. God’s mercy, at least by implication, is limited to those who fit into our description of those that know God. If they don’t fit in we mentally exclude them and act as if God’s love and mercy won’t extend to them.
Jonah, that reluctant prophet had this all too human tendency to view God’s mercy as limited only to certain people. So he ran. Did he get away? Do we ever get away from God?
Jesus, too, was a somewhat reluctant prophet, but He was a faithful prophet (and of course so much more than a prophet!). When Jesus was confronted with a call that demanded so much of Him, He too wanted to run away. He looked for another way, but in the end, He prayed, as an example for all of us, “Lord, if there is any other way, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not my will but your will be done.”
Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross just as Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. Jonah was afraid that God would be God by extending God’s mercy to those heartless people. Was Jesus afraid that God wouldn’t be God? Was He a little afraid that this might be the end-end? Was He anticipating the pain, the whip, the crown of thorns, the spikes through his hands and feet, the agonising death on the cross? We don’t know all that went through Jesus’ mind, but we know this: the will of God, pleasing God, was more important that saving his own skin, and more important than his own sense of justice.
What is God calling you and me to? Who might God be calling us to go to? Where is God calling us to? Where have we run off to? What storms are we enduring right now because we are running from the God who loves us and extends mercy to us?
In reality it is the hard truth of the gospel story. The good news is for all, not just a few. Do we feel cheated when God extends grace beyond us, or do we still feel like we need to earn the good news and resent those who didn’t earn it?
Perhaps consciously or even subconsciously we want to exclude the recently released inmate, the person who dragged your name through the mud or stabbed you in the back, certain politicians, some people of other faiths, drug dealers.
The story of Jonah points out how far God’s mercy reaches, beyond the lines we draw. In Remembrance Day Jesus is reminding us of his words “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”
God bless us all and keep us in God’s peace. Amen.
Copyright 2016 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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