Musings, Of Whale Vomit and Difficult Truths to Preach: January 18th 2021
The story from the Hebrew scripture we are invited to ponder this Sunday as per the Revised Common Lectionary is a familiar one for many – and much loved in some cases. There is something about stories of people being swallowed by whales and spit up on beaches that captures the imagination.
But for those of us who are preachers, it is not the whale who takes centre stage in our imagination – but Jonah – the preacher, the prophet, the one tasked with communicating a difficult truth, the one tasked with speaking truth to power, offering words that afflict the comfortable AND AT THE SAME TIME comfort the afflicted….
From “Discovering God’s Word in Today’s World with Pastor Jack”. You can go looking for it if you wish… but the image was the best part of the page!
Like Jonah, sometimes we preachers try and avoid the calling that is set before us. Sometimes, at best, we avoid it and other times, at worst, like Jonah, we’ll run away. But as one wise man once said to me, “There is no escaping this reality – the alternative is fantasy and Peter Pan and I would just not see eye to eye…”. Jonah was confronted with the reality of the situation before him and the responsibility that was his, to utter truth as he knew it.
Ok, yes, it took a dunk in the sea, three days and nights of prayers in the belly of a big fish, and being regurgitated on a beach… but Jonah went and preached his eight word sermon (at least eight words when translated into English “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
And lo and behold, those in power listened! The King issues a decree to the people that has within it a question, ‘Who knows?’
The King in the story must have known a thing or two about preachers and preaching because good preachers always try to weave a few questions into their sermons and reflections! Questions leave open the possibility for God and God’s people to do something new, something different, something daring, something rooted in faith and the conviction that this life we share matters…
Well… I guess I won’t be preaching on the text from the book Jonah this Sunday… or maybe this is just the prelude and the rest of it will come to me as I wipe off the whale vomit and beach sand?!
This morning I occupied myself with a series of meeting both in-person and by Zoom. This afternoon I spent some time reading and writing this little note.
Tuesday and Wednesday will look somewhat similar: meetings (The Preacher’s Help Group at 10:30am on Tuesday) in the morning and pastoral visits in the afternoon. On Wednesday add in meal deliveries in the afternoon, followed by our second Virtual Community Meal at 5PM! Hope to see you there! Just follow the link above! After sharing in the Community Meal I will meet with the Executive of the Sackville United Church congregation at 6:30PM.
Thursday will see me in at the office and in meetings for part of the day and working on the liturgy and reflection from home in whatever time is left.
Friday and Saturday will be days off and I am trying to get in the practice of not responding to emails on my days off. I will be checking email – but not responding unless it is urgent and requires an immediate response. Of course, if you have an urgent pastoral need please call (506) 940-1151 and I will respond immediately.
Sunday, as per the decisions made by each of the Executives, should we remain in the Orange Level of Recovery (or move to the Red Level of Recovery), we will gather at 10am via Facebook Live. If we return to the Yellow Level of Recovery, you can expect us to return to our usual times in each location.