Scripture Readings: Jonah 3:1-5,10
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
‘Now Jonah he lived in a whale’. That, in the words of the Gershwin song (sung here by Paul Robeson), is all that many folk know about Jonah. Or perhaps they know a little more of the story of this reluctant prophet. Of how he was asked to preach against the city of Nineveh, and how he decided to avoid the command of God by going in the opposite direction- he boards a ship headed for Spain. But God is not to be foiled. A storm springs up, and Jonah confesses to the terrified sailors that he is the cause of their distress- he has disobeyed the God of the wind and waves. They throw him overboard, and calm returns to the sea. Jonah, meanwhile, is swallowed by his famous giant fish, who spews him up alive on a beach. It is at this point that this morning’s reading takes up the story. So again, the command of the Lord comes to Jonah: ‘Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to the people the message I have given you’. And so, after his fishy adventure Jonah, does finally head for Nineveh, with a stark warning for the people of the city: ‘In forty days Nineveh will be destroyed!’