Beginning this coming Sunday (July 25th) I will commence a three week sermon series in which I want to explore the book of Jonah. The book has four chapters: 1 and 2 blend together well and I will be exploring them this coming Sunday. Chapters 3 and 4 will each be a sermon on their own. As I have been reading and rereading the story of Jonah I have come to realize that many people have oversimplified and boiled down an already short story to fit into neat moral categories. When I have heard people talking about Jonah there is a consistent common thread in all of their words. "Jonah exemplifies what not to do." they say. "When God tells you to do something you do it."
I have to admit it has been hard to put these comments aside and read the story of Jonah's journey with fresh eyes and an open mind. This common and classic reading of Jonah's story is not without merit of course, but my hope in returning to this story is to find a deeper and more complex person in Jonah. I wonder if instead of looking at this story as a neat and tidy example of what not to do, we paused, read it, and then asked ourselves if this is maybe a window into the human heart. Maybe there is a little bit of Jonah in all of us...and maybe the story is about both what not to do, and who we are as human beings.