Sulking. Under a wilting bush. - Reflections 9-20-17

 Texts for Sunday September 24, 2017
 16th Sunday after Pentecost

 Jonah 3:10--4:11 
 Psalm 145:1-8 
 Philippians 1:21-30 
 Matthew 20:1-16 


 The first reading for this coming Sunday is the entertaining conclusion to the entertaining story of Jonah. 

Our story so far: God told Jonah to go preach repentance in the city of Ninevah, known for its wickedness. Jonah headed to Tarshish. The ship he was on faced a big storm. The group on-board eventually figured out that Jonah was the problem and threw him overboard (storm stopped). Jonah was swallowed by a whale that eventually spit him out on a shore. God told Jonah to go preach repentance in the city of Ninevah, known for its wickedness. Jonah went to Ninevah. Went to the middle of it and an announced unenthusiastically that the Ninevites should repent or be destroyed. They repented. And that is where our text for today picks up the story.

God decided not to destroy them since they turned from their evil ways. Jonah was incensed. That is precisely why I didn’t want to go. I KNEW you were going to do something ridiculously gracious. Then Jonah sulks under a bush.... that first provides shade and then the plant dies. And eventually God and Jonah have a great conversation about his “ridiculous” grace. 

And then in the Gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus tells a parable about a land owner who, like God, doesn’t play by the rules. Some workers agree in the morning to work all day for a certain amount.  The land owner keeps adding workers throughout the day. In the evening, he pays each group the same amount regardless of how long they worked. That went over with the first set of workers as well as God forgiving the Ninevites did for Jonah. 

Both instances are an example of what people have called “the reckless love of God”.

God overflows with grace. And that is just not fair. I want God’s grace for me. But I don’t want God’s grace for others when it feels like it is at my expense, or when it just looks way too unfair. If you have ever been around a teen who has decided something is unfair you are probably aware of the noise “eh” just before they stride off to pout. That is the noise Jonah made. That is the noise the first group of workers made. And that is the noise I make when God doesn’t play by the rules. 

Many wise people have noted that we are bothered because letting grace flow freely to all will transform us. And the next thing you know, we’ll change.  And then we will be out there being recklessly and ridiculously gracious. Eh. I’m going to go sit under a bush.

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful. -Flannery O'Connor

Who do we judge to be undeserving of God’s grace?

Does this annoyance with God’s ridiculous love help us better understand the meaning of grace?

How can we learn to truly share God’s grace freely?

Please share your ideas below.

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Written by Pam Larabee-Zierath


Gathered by Grace, Scattered for Service
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