Jonah 3: 1-5, 10

New Resources

  • Jonah

    by Frederick Buechner
  • Epiphany 3B (2021)

    by Bruce Cromwell
  • Refusing God's Call

    by Lorraine Cuddeback
  • Exegesis (Jonah 3:1-5, 10)

    by Richard Donovan
  • Epiphany 3B (2021)

    by Phil Heinze
  • Missing the Point

    by Beth Johnston
  • Second Chances

    by Anne Le Bas
  • Coming Through the Call

    by Cheryl Lindsay
  • Sermon Starters (Epiphany 3B)(2021)

    by Stan Mast
    Thomas Carlisle wrote a little book of poems that convey the message of Jonah better than any giant commentary. For example, this poem entitled “Tantrum” captures Jonah’s response to God’s mercy. The generosity of God Displeased Jonah greatly And he slashed with angry prayer At the graciousness of the Almighty. “I told you so,” he screamed, “I knew what you would do, You dirty Forgiver. You bless your enemies And show kindness to those Who despitefully use you. I would rather die Than live in a world With a God like you. And don’t try to forgive me either.’
  • The Syntax of Salvation

    by Jason Micheli
    The theologian Steven Paulson tells the story of one of his seminary students who took his first church out in the hinterlands of Minnesota. After a few weeks, the newly minted pastor called Professor Paulson to update him on his new parish. "How do you fire a volunteer?" he asked. Dr. Paulson asked him what he meant, and the rookie pastor replied, "There's this old widow in the congregation. She's here every day sweeping the hallways with her straw broom. She's mean and rude, and she does a terrible job of sweeping and cleaning." "Maybe there's a reason she needs to be there day after day. Try finding out what it is, and if it is, don't waste any time. Give her the goods. Lay the Gospel on her," the professor said. Paulson says a few days later the student called him again. "Dr. Paulson, Dr. Paulson, I did it. I asked her why she spent so much time at church, but seemed so miserable doing it." "And?" "And she told me, 'Forty years ago, I cheated on my husband with another man, and twelve years ago he died without ever knowing I had betrayed him.' So, I did what you told me," the student told the professor, "I said to her, 'In the name of Jesus Christ and by his authority alone, I absolve you of all your sins.' And as soon as I gave her the absolution, her whole countenance changed and she said, 'I have been here Sunday after Sunday, day after day, week after week, for forty years pushing this God-forsaken broom, waiting to hear God say that to me.'" The professor laughed and said, "Amen." "Wait, it gets better," the student added. "No sooner had she told me she'd been waiting to hear God speak, she threw the broom down on the floor and said, 'I don't have to do this anymore,' and she walked out the front door. Free."...
  • The Miracle of Mercy

    by Glenn Monson
  • Welcome to Nineveh

    by John Morris
  • An Ironic Collect

    by Steve Pankey
  • Justice or Mercy?

    by Dave Risendal
  • Maybe, Just Maybe

    by Mashaun D. Simon
  • Epiphany 3B

    by Howard Wallace et al

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • God Calls Back, Again

    by Robert Allred
    ("My parents had a dear friend who had been called to preach as a teenager. He was just the type of candidate that you would go after, if you were God. I knew him when he was in his forties and he was still good looking and personable...")
  • The Shortest and Worst Sermon Ever Preached

    by Mickey Anders
    ("This scene reminds me of Bill Murray's character in the movie Ground Hog Day. His character wakes up every day on February 2. He is trapped in that day until he gets it right. At one part of the movie he tries every way imaginable to kill himself, but always wakes up the next day on February 2...")
  • Epiphany 3B (2018)

    by Doug Bratt
    In his October 3, 2015 blog, “Review of ‘Charles Williams: The Third Inkling’,” Bruce Charlton notes, “The playwright and poet Charles Williams was one of the four main Christians of the mid-twentieth century Anglican revival, which was the most recent significant Christian revival in England (the others were CS Lewis, TS Eliot and Dorothy L Sayers, who were all friends and very strong admirers of Williams). “So I have the highest regard for some of the novels and his theology… [Yet] Williams was in love with Phyllis Jones, and … had a warped kind of interaction with Lois Lang-Sims, and … there were other rather vague rumours about ritual magical-sadism with others – the sheer extent of Williams’s activities along these lines was never before clear … CW [also] had intense love relationships with both his main biographers Anne Ridler and Alice Mary Hadfield...
  • Jonah After the Whale

    by Sarah Buteux
    ("In 1994 I was traveling through the Netherlands and happened to be in Amsterdam. I came around a corner and saw a historical marker on the wall of the building. The plaque said that the little house was once the clock shop of Corrie ten Boom, one of my childhood heroes..." and other illustrations)
  • When God Repented

    by William Carter
    ("A friend told me about something that happened during a flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, to London, England. A woman with a thick European accent got on the plane. She came down the aisle to the tourist section and discovered her seat assignment put her right next to a man with, shall we say, an African accent...")
  • The World's Shortest Sermon

    by Kathy Donley
    Some of you may know the name of Will Campbell. He was a Baptist from Mississippi who went to Yale Divinity School. His family’s home church had Bibles with the symbol of the Klan inscribed on them, but the adult Campbell became known for his civil rights activism, so much so that he received death threats. It was dangerous for him to return home, but at one very low time in his life, he did. His 12-year-old nephew had died, after being hit by a car while riding the bicycle that his Uncle Will had given him. The tradition was that someone would keep vigil with the body, and that task fell to Campbell. He sat in the funeral home after the calling hours had ended, alone with his grief. At about 3:00 in the morning, another person moved out of the darkness, poured coffee from a thermos and handed it to Campbell. It was Will’s favorite uncle, a man he had not seen for many years, because the uncle had become Campbell’s most severe critic about his activism. Campbell looked at his uncle’s face. He saw there compassion mixed with hurt and misunderstanding and the two men sat together for the rest of the night. Looking back on it, Campbell wrote, “Until the dawn, I sat in the redemptive company of a racist Jesus.”...
  • Our Mission to Nineveh

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    ("One of the unforgettable figures of the 20th century was Princess Diana. Diana set out on a course to becoming queen of England but ended up becoming a world acclaimed queen of hearts...")
  • The Day God Repented

    by Art Ferry
    ("Johnny Moses, a Nootka Indian from the remote Pacific shores of British Columbia tells a story about an English missionary priest who came to his tribe in the 1800s. It took the priest years to learn the language, Moses said. 'And when he did, he began to preach. The people were sorry..." and other illustrations)
  • Call Waiting and Fishhooks

    by Justin K. Fisher
    ("Lately I've been caught up with many of you in watching the TV show Do You Want To Be A Millionaire?. While Regis Philbun is not my favorite host, I confess I'm "hooked" on his style, the music of the show, and the way in which the next "millionaire" is picked from a group of ten each night...")
  • Epiphany 3B (2012)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Aside from the book that bears his name, Jonah does not crop up much in the rest of the Bible. But the most important part of the Bible where Jonah is very much present is a passage where he is not named. It comes in Acts 10 when Peter receives the famous roof-top vision through which he was taught not only that just maybe the Kosher food laws were being overturned in the New Covenant but so was the Jews-only nature of salvation...")
  • Prayer in the Fish's Belly

    by Charles Hoffacker
    Jonah is a man of prayer, sometimes thrashing around in utter anger and selfishness, at times bubbling over with praise and hope. Yes, in many ways he's like us, and we often resemble him. His best prayer is at his worst moment, and moreover, this best prayer is nothing original, but phrases so familiar to him that they seem like second nature. The use of these phrases helps transform his nature. During his sojourn in the fish's belly, this crank gives praise to God. The belly of the fish takes different forms for different people. In her book, Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down, Marva Dawn recalls his ministry with residents of convalescent homes. She writes: "Several Alzheimer's patients resided in these homes, some whose minds were totally gone. Yet among those patients were some who, as soon as I began to sing "'What a Friend We Have in Jesus,' would join in and sing all three verses without a missed word. They could pray the Lord's Prayer, say the Apostles' Creed, and sing other hymns with me, before their minds wandered off."...
  • God Always Finds a Way

    by Janet Hunt
    I can’t resist spending time with Jonah this week for I found echoes of this ancient story in the exchange I had with a ‘wise beyond his years’ second grader last Sunday. Here was his question: “What would have happened if Jesus had never been born?” For once I did not miss a beat, “Well, Carter,” I said, “Then God would have found another way.”
  • The Phone's Ringing

    by John Jewell
    ("One of the ways I've introduced this theme is to have a phone and a tape player at the pulpit hidden from sight. When the prayer before the sermon is finished, I push the 'play' button and the sound of the phone ringing begins...")
  • What's It to You?

    by Beth Johnston
    ("One of my favourite cartoons is Family Circus. One day the Mom is waling along the street and an older woman asks, 'How do you divide your love among so many children?' She replies, 'I don't divide it. I multiply it'...")
  • A Gospel for Losers

    by David Leininger
    ("Do you ever feel like a loser? Ever watch Seinfeld? The hit show owes a lot of its success to a twisted sense of humor and a charming cast that could make even horrible behavior seem amusing. The character of George Costanza is the 'loveable loser' in the bunch..." and other illustrations)
  • Called! Now What?

    by David Martyn
    ("The call of Jesus was described by Albert Schweitzer in this way, 'He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, He came to those who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: "Follow thou me!"...")
  • We Know Jonah

    by James McCrea
    ("During World War II, René Schaefer was a Dutch prisoner of war being held in Japan. He had been sentenced to forced labor in a shipyard in the city of Hiroshima. His captivity had been long and very harsh and Schaefer had learned to hate his guards with a white-hot passion...")
  • Always a Catch (Jonah)

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    On the sea wall of the Old City of Acre (Akko), Israel, is a sculpture in the form of a whale. The sculpture is a memorial to those who have lost their lives at sea or, as the inscription says, those who remained in the lap of the sea. It is not meant to be a depiction of the Jonah story, but the hole in the middle of the whale - large enough for people to crawl in - may remind us of Jonah's time in the belly of the fish. From there he prayed to God for deliverance, concluding with the promise, "What I have vowed, I will pay" (Jonah 2:9b). And to be fair, Jonah does pay his vow. Though he doesn't appear to have really learned the truth of God's love for the people of Nineveh - even at the end of the story.
  • How Do You Spell Nineveh?

    by Steven Molin
    I wonder if the message of Jonah's story is that every one of us is called by God to go to some sort of Nineveh, and we are fighting it. Our Nineveh might be a place; a job change to a distant city and you don't want to go. I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds here, but I remember the struggle Royanna Stratmoen had when Todd was offered the position that would require them to move to South Dakota. "Brookings!" Royanna said. "Can you believe that; Brookings?" Nineveh? Nineveh? I'm not going to Nineveh! But to their credit, the Stratmoen's went, and I think one day they will look back and say "God called us to be here." Our Nineveh might not be a place; it might be a people...
  • Finding the Way

    by Michael Phillips
    (includes several quotes)
  • The God of the Second Chance

    by Haddon Robinson
    ("On New Year's Day 1929, Georgia Tech played the University of California in the Rose Bowl. During the first half of the game a player by the name of Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for California on his own thirty-five yard line. In evading some of the Georgia Tech tacklers, Riegels became confused...")
  • A Second Time

    by Michael Ruffin
    Mr. James Boggs died a few weeks ago. He was my Little League Baseball coach. He taught me many lessons; one in particular has stayed with me through the almost half-century that has passed since those days. I was at bat. I don’t remember all the details, but I know that we had at least one runner on base, there were two outs, and the count was in my favor, which means that there were two or three balls and one or no strikes. Mr. Boggs hollered, “Take a pitch, Mike.” (We weren’t advanced enough to be receiving signs, but he meant that I shouldn’t swing.)...
  • More Than a Fish Story

    by David Saperstein
    ("There is an old story told by William James in his Varieties of Religious Experience of a man who found himself sliding down a precipice on a dark night. Finally, he caught hold of a branch which stopped his fall, and for hours he remained clinging to the branch hanging over space in misery...")
  • To Endure the Beams of Love

    by Chandler Stokes
    ("Years ago, when the Robert Bork confirmation was going on, I got interested in reading court decisions. And the recent court nominations have me back at it. Bork was a proponent of the death penalty. At the time of Bork's nomination, American historian William McFeely wrote on the history of the death penalty. McFeely cites Robert Bork as saying..." and other quotes)
  • The Most Reluctant Sermon Ever Preached

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("A wealthy businessman hosted a spectacular party in which he had filled his swimming pool with sharks, barracuda and other assorted dangerous fish. He announced to his guests that he would like to challenge any of them to try swimming across the pool, and he would offer a prize of either a new home in the mountains, a trip around the world for two or a piece of his business...")
  • You Can Run But You Can't Hide

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("One spring day a mother and her six-year-old son were out in the garden. Mom was absorbed in her work while the little boy explored the miracle of growing things exploding everywhere. All at once he picked a daffodil bud, sat down on the ground and studied it. Then with his two little hands he tried to force it open into full blossom..." and another illustration)
  • Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Jonah 3)

    by Various Authors
    ("The problem is that God's primary call to us isn't about personal piety or holiness or good citizenship or about serving committees or doing church maintenance. That would be too easy...")
  • Saved by Unfairness

    by Kari Jo Verhulst
    ("For example, if you give a 4-year-old two small pieces of cake, and a 10-year-old one big piece of cake that amounts to the exact same amount, the 4-year-old will surely protest...")
  • The Perfect Storm

    by Keith Wagner
    ("The term 'perfect storm' comes from the book, Perfect Storm, written by Sebastian Junger. In September 1991, five fishermen and their captain boarded the Andrea Gail, a longliner boat used for sword fishing. Their plan was to head to the Grand Banks off the shores of New England from their fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The last week of October is a notoriously dangerous time for storms in the Grand Banks...")
  • Give Jonah a Break

    by Todd Weir
    ("This kind of immediacy was captured in a TV show I used to watch called Early Edition. The basic concept of the show is that an average guy with a good heart and modest prospects receives an early edition of the Chicago Sun Times every morning that tells not the news of yesterday, but what is actually going to happen today...")
  • How Great Satire Can Lead us to Discipleship

    by Todd Weir
    Here’s how I like to think of Jonah’s story. This is Homer’s Odyssey of an epic adventure if it was written by Woody Allen, played by Billy Crystal or John Stewart. This should be the next big epic Bible movie, we’ve had Russell Crowe as Noah and Moses played by Batman, so why not Billy Crystal as Jonah. Imagine the scene when Morgan Freeman (God, of course) tells Jonah to go prophecy to Nineveh and tell them they are doomed: “Nineveh? No! Are you crazy, there are bad people there. They will put an apple in my mouth and slowly roast me. It will be worse than going to a bar mitzvah on a blind date. No, I’m getting on the ferry and going far away from here, or at least to Staten Island.” You can imagine the scene where the storm hits and the boat is being tossed in the waves, and Billy Crystal saying, “It's my fault. I never listen. Toss me overboard and save yourselves. With my luck I won’t even drown, I’ll get swallowed by a whale and spit up at Battery Park and have to go to Nineveh anyway.” Jonah should be read as satire in service of theology, more like Andy Borowitz in the New Yorker or The Onion. I love the line that says even the animals are to be dressed in sack cloth to repent...
  • Images of Jonah

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Other Resources from 2020

  • Jonah

    Poem by Robert Graves
  • Jonah and God's Mercy

    Podcast with Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker
  • Jonah and God's Mercy

    Podcast with Robb McCoy and Eric Fistler
  • Leviathan (Jonah)

    Poem by Clare Pollard
  • Salvation by Fish

    by Gregory Rawn
  • YouNeverKnow

    by David Russell
    We are living in a time of uncertainty, and it reminds me, believe it or not, of a baseball story. I’m a Cardinal fan, and it’s been a long time but I may have shared the story of Cardinal pitcher Jouquin Andujar. Jouquin was a colorful character. When he took his practice pitches before each inning, the last pitch he would throw wildly and like a bullet, about 20 feet up on the screen. Besides just plain orneriness, he did this to send a message to the opposing players that his fastball just might get away from him. He didn’t want them getting too comfortable at the plate. A reporter once asked Jouquin to describe the game of baseball in one word. He was from the Dominican Republic, liked to be known as One Bad Dominican, and his English wasn’t perfect, but he had a wonderful response. The one word to describe baseball, he said, was “YOUNEVERKNOW.“ It was an inspired answer. And it’s true. You head to the ballpark and it could be a no-hitter or an 18-17 game. Youneverknow. YOUNEVERKNOW actually applies to a lot of things. If you were asked to describe the story of Jonah in one word, a good answer would be: YOUNEVERKNOW...

Other Resources from 2015 to 2017

Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources and Dramas

Currently Unavailable

  • Running Away Again

    from the Mennonite Mental Health & Disabilities Program
  • Preaching the RCL

    from Ministry Matters
  • Epiphany 3

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("From Frederick Buechner in Peculiar Treasures: "Jonah had a disposition that was enough to curdle milk. When God ordered him to go to Nineveh and tell them there to shape up and get saved, the expression on Jonah's face was that of a man who has just gotten a whiff of a septic tank...")