Sunday 14 August 2022 Kinlochleven and Nether Lochaber Churches

Opening Words Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:8).

Hymn Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

 


Prayer O Lord of love we praise your name, for you are God and worthy of our song. We sing of your goodness, and we trust in you. You care for us. We love you, Lord. Make us strong; for Jesus’ sake Amen.                             

Jonah 1:1-9, 12, 17 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. The Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid. Each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.” Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

He answered, “I am a Hebrew and worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, it will become calm. It is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” 17 The Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Message Alexander Stewart, pen name Nether Lochaber, was also minister there for 50 years. He wrote of a Fort William man, known as Iack Crùbach, or Lame Jack, who caught a huge swordfish locally.  

  We sometimes think of Jonah and the whale, but the Bible doesn’t specify which sort of fish. It was big enough to swallow a man whole.

  Jonah was a prophet of the Lord (2 Kings 14:25) in the time of king Jeroboam of the northern kingdom of Israel, around 800 years before Christ. Jonah was helpful, guiding his people in a time of trouble. But when God asked him to go and preach to the people in Nineveh, that was another story! The Israelites had no friendly dealings with the Assyrians. To go there required a long journey inland. Instead, Jonah headed in the opposite direction, boarding a vessel for Tarshish on the Mediterranean Sea. He was disobeying and running away from God.

   Jonah’s problem was his prejudice. He resented the thought that God might show mercy to Assyrians. How could he, an Israelite, have dealings with a nation that caused so much trouble? But clearly God did want to show mercy to them. If we devalue others, or hold on to prejudice or resentment, it gets in the way of what God wants to do.

   Jonah was too angry to be reasonable. He not only caused trouble for himself, he put the mariners in a dangerous situation. If we have the wrong attitude, we cause problems for ourselves and others.

  God may ask us to go into unfamiliar settings and do our best to fit in, so that we serve him there and show others God’s love and care.

  God didn’t let Jonah go. Such is his love for us, that even when we become disobedient God brings us back. He wants to bring peace and blessing to us. He says, ‘come back, you child of mine’. May we say yes to Jesus, and yes to what he asks of us, and know his saving power.     

       Prayer O Lord, forgive us when we go against your instructions. Help us to live in a way that pleases you. Our Father…. Closing Words The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us. (2 Cor 13:14) Amen.