Greetings all, here is your e-votional for the week…
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, ‘Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.”-Jonah 1: 1-3
Let me just say this, nobody wants to go to Ninevah.  Ninevah was the Vegas of the ancient world, a city renowned for its lascivious attitudes and ignorance of the one true God.  Being sent to preach in Ninevah seemed like a fool’s errand to Jonah, as it would to any of us who might feel God were calling us to the stand outside Caesar’s Palace and proclaim the Gospel.  At best, he thought, no one will listen.  At worst his trip to Ninevah would be a one-way venture.   Nobody likes those odds.So Jonah did the only sensible thing, he bolted.  He ran away.  If Ninevah is Vegas then Tarshish is Baltimore, a city in the complete opposite direction.  By Jonah’s reckoning, he could flee God’s call by changing his zip code.  For those of us who went to Sunday School, we know how this went.  For those who did not, well, it did not go well.  The long and short of it is that Jonah ended up preaching in Ninevah.

Now, what can we glean from this?  Most of us have not received such a direct call from God.  Few of us have been asked to go stand on a street corner, but all of us have received a more general call from God.  All of us have been asked to go and make disciples of all nations (remember the end of Matthew?); all of us have been asked to proclaim the Gospel.  So the question we must confront is this, how willing have we been to go to Ninevah on even a small scale?  How willing have we been to tell people what Jesus has meant in our lives?  For most of us, the answer is this:  not very willing.

This has happened for a variety of reasons.  We are not confident in what to say.  We don’t want to upset someone.  We want people to come to faith at their own pace. We delegate proclamation to the Church.  These are all reasonable excuses, but they are just that, excuses.  Now, we are Presbyterians so we don’t want to go around whacking people with the Bible and telling them to make a decision, but we do have a message to share.  That message is one that needs to be heard now more than ever.  In an era when most un-churched people believe Christianity is just moralisms and an escape from Hell, our rich, nuanced understanding of the Gospel needs to be heard.  People need to hear that God first loved them in Jesus Christ.  They need to hear that all of us are sinners and fall short of the glory of God.  They need to hear that there are people who believe we have been called to not just love ourselves, but also our neighbors and even our enemies.  This is a powerful Gospel!

Nobody wants to go to Ninevah, but we cannot escape the truth that all of us, in ways large and small, are called to Ninevah in our lives.  For some of us the conversation may need to happen with a child, for others a spouse, for still others a friend, and for a few of us, even a stranger.  But all of us are called to go to Ninevah, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to share our faith in this world.  It is time to stop running.

Prayer:  Holy God, help me to boldly proclaim the Gospel in my life.  Help me to find the right words, the right moment, the right voice to share your love in this world.  I thank you for all you have done for me and today I rest in the promises you made to me in my baptism.  I pray for strength, grace, and love in Jesus’ name.  Amen.