Is it a whale? No, it’s a fish but it was at least as big as a whale… Fishing stories have had a habit of growing – the one that got away was how big? In the month of June the Methodist Church is encouraging us all to engage with the fishy story of Jonah. It is a wonderful story involving a huge fish (nobody ever says it’s a whale), cows and sheep putting on sackcloth and a human being rather fed up with life, God and everyone!
Over 4 Sundays we will consider each chapter in Jonah (there are 4 chapters) with a couple of opportunities to sink deeper into the story with time for conversation. How does God speak to us today through the Bible? Have stories like Jonah got any relevance for the world and my life today? Just how do you get a herd of cows into sackcloth? I encourage you to ask questions as we share in this journey together, to enjoy the humour and discover the connections between the ancient world, the world today and God.
The circuit preachers have all freely given of their time attending a conference and a training day as we worked out together how we might share the story creatively and with a sense of coherence. This circuit is very blessed to have this group of preachers and I encourage congregations to repay this work with enthusiasm and willingness.
As we set off on this journey together I offer this quote which was shared in the training. It is from the book ‘Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters’ (1982) written by Annie Dillard:
“Why do people in church seem like brainless tourists on a package tour of the Absolute? Does anyone have the foggiest idea of what sort of power we blithely invoke? It is madness for ladies to wear straw hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Stewards should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.”