Jonah and the Whale (1621) by Pieter Lastman
Bible Readings and Devotion for March 30, 2020
You are encouraged to read these passages from this page or from your personal Bible. After the readings is a devotion based on one or more of the readings.
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or an online Bible – click passage listing for link to online:
Devotion for March 30, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
Many of us have a favorite book, movie, song, story, etc. As people of faith we often have a favorite Bible verse, chapter or entire book of the Bible. My favorite Bible verse is Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” My favorite Bible chapter is Philippians 2, which shared the poetic description of the willing humiliation and glorious exaltation of Jesus, along with encouragements to serve others.
My favorite entire book of the Bible is Jonah. I often reference it during various sermons over the years. In today’s readings we include chapter 1 of this short, yet dramatic and prophetic book of the Old Testament. We will be reading all four chapters this week in our common readings.
In today’s reading we hear about the call of Jonah to go to Nineveh, the main city of the Assyrians. Remember, the Assyrians were great enemies of the Israelites. They were the big, bad empire in that part of the world around 800-700 BC. Jonah’s response to this calling to go to Nineveh is to skip town in the opposite direction. He buys a ticket to ride a boat heading to Tarshish, which is likely Spain. In the book it tells us that he was fleeing the presence of the Lord. It wasn’t to get away from Nineveh. It was to get away from God.
Jonah made the mistake of thinking that God was limited to the Temple in Jerusalem or to the Holy Land. Even in what he tells the sailors gives away the truth of God. He says, “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” The Lord is the God who created all that is. The Lord is rule of all that he has made. The Lord is present wherever and whenever he chooses in that creation. So, when Jonah catches the boat west, he is just moving to another location of God’s presence in the world. For the benefit of humanity, the Lord is always present in this world to be with us.
In our life today we are quite separated from one another. The “social distancing” and keeping close to home does not keep God out of our lives. Thanks be to God that he is with each of us in our homes, our workplaces, inside, outside, wherever we are. Our relationship with God is not over because we can’t meet with one another as usual. We can connect with God anywhere in creation. Jesus teaches about this in John 4:21-23, “21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain (Mount Gerizim) nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.” Our life with God is not limited to being in the Holy Land. We connect with God as we relate with Jesus through prayer, devotion, Word and Sacrament, the Holy Spirit, our fellowship, our service to others, etc. anywhere in the world.
Our relationships with one another are altered, but not suspended during this time. There will be a time in the weeks to come when we can meet safely as we usually do. Our gatherings are core to our way of life as followers of Jesus. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are taught, “24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” When the suspension ends, we have the joyful calling to gather together as the people of God. I am looking forward to more fully sharing our life together as we do when we get to gather as the body of Christ in worship, fellowship and service.
Lord, the God of Heaven, you are the One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Remind us in many and various ways that you are our God and that you are with us in this life. Help us to remain steadfast in you and in our connection with one another. We pray this in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen
In cased you missed the March 29 readings, here they are: