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 Walkin on Air

JONAS and the SUNFLOWER


09-10.06.1997


The Disobedience


Aye yae, yae yahhh!
Truly, know we of what spirit we are?
Consuming fire should one from heaven call:
Mosaic Law, Elijah's wrath for all
who simple truth of Jesus won't receive
as Christ's example teaches to forgive?

Consider Jonah, son of Amittai,
whom God had called to go to Nineveh
the ancient city, Aram's wickedness.
Instead Jonah fled by ship to Tarshish
refusing God our father to obey:
as a thief in the night stole he away.

But while the ship was sailing the Great Sea,
a tempest God sent so fierce and mighty
crew and captain feared they would break and sink;
while Jonah slept others began to think:
‘of this evil someone on board is cause
that into perdition all of us draws;
we'd better cast lots to see who it is:
from where and why we got into this mess.'

So lot they cast. On Jonah it fell.
“Who and what are you?” they asked. “Pray do tell!”
“Hebrew am I,” Jonah said, “God I fear,
but His will disobeyed and stand now here;
mine is the fault that you are in danger,
afflicted are you by sins of a stranger;
take me up; cast me forth into the sea:
the storm will then abate, be calm for thee.”

At first they declined, tried rowing ashore.
This they could not. The storm blew more and more
until they cried out: “We beseech Thee God!
upon us lay not his innocent blood,
for Thou hast done as it pleased Thee.”
They then threw poor Jonah into the sea!

A fish to swallow him God had prepared:
three days was he in it's belly interred.

There Jonah prayed during hard affliction.
“My Lord! I repent now under conviction;
over me are passed Thy billow and wave:
my head in weeds wrapped, a watery grave
in the belly of Hell under the sea,
is there no hope for me?

Mother Earth with her bars ever round me,
making excuses is not an option;
O Lord! Bring my life up from corruption!
Should I trust in my lying vanity,
I abandon all allotted mercy.
Let me thus sacrifice with thanksgiving:
salvation is yours, Lord of the Living!
To Nineveh I'll return: I obey:
That, which I had vowed, will I also pay.”

God then spoke to the fish concerning his man:
“Vomit out Jonah upon dry land!”

God's Warning

A second time came God's word
unto Jonah saying:
“Arise! Go speak what you heard
from me while you were praying.
Nineveh, the great city,
pride if idolaters' empire,
overthrown shall be
by retribution's fire!
My Holy Spirit so says:
there remains but forty days!”

Jonah obeyed, stayed true to his vow
made in God's eternal now:
he arose and went forth to preach
to everyone within reach
of three days walk of Nineveh.
“After forty days you'll all be
overthrown for your sins!” He cried,
“Repent! Believe! God has never lied.”

Now there happened a most unusual thing:
show of repentance King and men did bring!
Yes! All of them did God believe:
they proclaimed a fast
for great and small
including all;
from first to last
sinners opened their hearts
God's warning to receive:
in sackcloth and ashes
both men and beasts
touched neither water nor food;
tears of Godly sorrow washes
away indignation, brings out good,
foreshadowing communion feast.

They from evil turned their ways,
shed violence from their hands
hoping to live beyond forty days;
God might relent: mercy advance…

So came it to pass: God relented;
when he saw Nineveh repent
withheld he their punishment,
did not destroy as intended;
for though a God of justice
forever is mercy his
in love to dispense,
to sinners making amends.

God's Mercy

God's decision Jonah displeased.
Exceedingly was he angry!
Like a cur that's mangy,
with selfish indignation diseased
he in prayer chided out loud;
disclosing the fact he was proud
he proceeded to forge a schism
pouring out cynicism
asking God his life to take,
thus hoping God's will to break.

“To be angry doest thou well?”
inquired the Lord.
Challenging God for a spell
Jonah could ill afford;
yet, he went out of the city
thinking to be witty
for on the east side to sit and watch
in a homemade booth,
his bruised ego to soothe
wondering how God would judge…

While Jonah sat nursing his errant grief
from noonday heat needing relief,
soaking in sweat from time's sunshower,
a dark shadow suddenly
up round his head began to grow:
like a breezy cool meadow
God had prepared him a sunflower.

Jonah was glad for the gourd,
of God's mercy it assured;
his spirit soared
thinking with God he'd come to term,
but the Lord's will remained firm;
He the next day prepared a worm
that to the gourd slithered
and smote it so it withered.

A vehement east-wind at sunrise
caught dear Jonah by surprise:
the sun beat upon his head.
He fainted. He wished he was dead.

“It is better I die than live!
How can you Nineveh forgive
and leave them to reign with power
while you destroy my sunflower?!”
Jonah did thus murmur,
making God's will all the firmer.

“Now you're angry for the gourd?
Pity for such as you have not labored:
is not this rather absurd?
Tell me then, if you know:
who made the gourd to grow?
It was but a plant of the field
that unto nature must yield.
Yet, Nineveh should I not spare,
on which I bestowed much care?
Not for their buildings or property
do I care inordinately,
but six score thousand persons
of whom between left and right not one discerns,
and also very much cattle:
they repented,
surrendered!
Still you'd have me do battle?
Go now, my friend, and learn
what is right in holy eyes:
I, your Creator, do yearn
for mercy, not sacrifice!”








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