This week at King of Grace we are continuing our study of the book of Jonah. In chapter 1 we saw Jonah asleep at the wheel, headed down, down, down in his flight from God. But we also saw God’s merciful pursuit of Jonah, trying to wake him up. In chapter 2 we find out that it worked! Finally Jonah is awake and praying to his God. This chapter is an invitation to the reader to participate in Jonah’s experience of prayer in the midst of suffering. Jonah didn’t know it, but God was already bringing him back to life in the midst of his death.
This week at King of Grace we will begin a four-week study of the book of Jonah in the Old Testament—one chapter per week.
The book of Jonah is a satire, using extreme circumstances, humor, and irony to critique the stupidity and character flaws of Jonah—and ultimately to critique the reader. The story is not about the fish, and it’s not even really about Jonah. The prophetic message of this book lies in God’s compassionate dealings with human beings everywhere.
The scene is so familiar. Parents, children, the Divine Service, and all the “accessories” that come along for the ride—the children’s bulletins, the scraps of “scribble paper,” the Cheerios, and the crayons. Each week, we parents go to great lengths to keep our children occupied during the worship hour. We know how our children, especially the younger ones, can become when they are bored or ignored, and we really don’t want to see that in public.
But is there something beyond merely keeping our children occupied for the time being? Is there some way to move in the Divine Service “beyond Cheerios and crayons”?
At Pentecost, the wind brought the Spirit of God which re-created the people of Israel as the New Testament church. 3,000 people were baptized that day and the church was born. The name is an alternate name for the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Weeks, which occurred fifty (Latin: pente-) days after Passover.
Proverbs are sometimes tough for the Christian reader of the Bible. Not because they aren’t clear or don’t make sense, but because they sometimes appear empty of theological content. But Proverbs are actually intricate literary expressions which are less moralistic and far more theologically related to experience that is apparent at first glance.
So far in the divine worship service the congregation has been the primary speakers, opening their lips in prayer and praise. At this point the congregation falls silent and our Lord himself speaks to us. We open our ears and hearts to his life giving words spoken through the Lessons.