Thursday, January 22, 2009

3 Epiphany

Readings are here.

Thoughts toward a sermon:

The story of Jonah is about someone who is so sure he knows what is right he even disobeys God. Sort of an odd story to have in the Bible. Jonah is supposed to go tell the Nineveh-ites that they are going to be destroyed because they have been so bad and worship idols. Jonah chooses to go somewhere else and not until he is tossed into the sea and swallowed by the fish does he end up where is supposed to be. Oh well he seems to say to himself I will tell them that they will be destroyed. They are so stupid they won't listen - they can't even tell their right hands from their left. (a very dumb think in the desert where the right hand is for eating and the left for dirtier jobs)

Then even worse they repent and God forgives them. Jonah says I knew it, I knew it, you are way to soft on these sinners. And goes off to pout. Jonah is so caught up in his idea of what is right he stays with his way of being and his own knowledge - that he worships righteousness - even when God shows compassion.

Now Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, is sure the end of the world is coming soon - very soon - so soon that people don't need to bother with possessions -including wives.

In our Gospel today, Peter and Andrew are doing what generations of their families have done - fishing. Unlike Jonah or Paul - they are not so set in continuing to keep the traditions of their families. Jesus calls to them - offering a new career with the skills they already have -- fishing for people.

For all the readings people have a revelation about a new future but the reaction of each differs. I think it is like being in a long running play. We have learned our lines perfectly - and we go out on stage each night to perform our role. One day we go out on stage and discover we are in a totally different play with a totally different plot. Our response might be to resist - like Jonah - this is not the role I have worked for all my life. Or it might be to try to force the play into something familiar - like Paul. Or taking our cue from Andrew and Peter - say - all right - let's do it.

This is the story of the call from God in our lives. How will we repond?

Darest thou now O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
Where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?

No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not O soul,
Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us,
All waits undream’d of in that region, that inaccessible land.

Till when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us.

Then we burst forth, we float,
In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them,
Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil O soul.
– Walt Whitman

H/T to Edge of Enclosure.

Image from He Qi.


Grandmère Mimi said...

Ann, my first thought was, "Oh, I know folks like Jonah", but that is precisely not the point, is it? The sermon is not for other folks. It's for me. That sends my thoughts in a different direction.

The Whitman poem fits well here.

Ann said...

Further thoughts -- God gets what God wants in the end regardless of our attitude.
Jonah and Ruth were probably written in response to the xenophobia of Ezra - both show people who are not part of the "people" - who do what God wants more than those who supposedly know better. The Nineveh-ites and Ruth are more faithful than those who are part of the "family" or tribe.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ann, the two testaments contain so many stories about welcoming the stranger and those who are different, right down to the lepers, whom everyone else shuns. Food for thought, surely.