Chaplaincy | Jonah
The power of a great story
Like most people, I love a good story.
I love reading them, I love hearing them, I love telling them – there’s something about stories that grab us as human beings.
Stories add colour, texture, vibrancy to life.
Sports are more exciting, more compelling, when you know the stories of the players, the journey of the team, the hopes of the city.
People are more interesting, more endearing, when you know where they’ve come from, what they’ve been through, and what’s at stake for them now.
The American children’s television host Mr Rogers used to carry a quote in his wallet that said, “Frankly, there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”
It’s a bold claim, but it has the ring of truth to it.
After all, stories are powerful. They comfort and inspire us. They create a context for how we experience the world, how we understand others, how we understand ourselves.
As the Laguna storyteller Leslie Silko puts it, “Stories aren’t just entertainment. Don’t be fooled. They are all we have…all we have to fight off illness and death. You don’t have anything, if you don’t have stories.”
The Bible is brimming with stories.
Some of these stories are well known: Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath.
Others are not so well known, like the story of Eutychus who, because he was so bored of the Apostle Paul’s preaching, fell asleep, fell out of a window and died, only to be resurrected by Paul so he could hear the sermon all over again!
The story of Jonah falls into the former category. It is one of the Bible’s most well-known stories, familiar to even those who have never read it for themselves.
It’s the story of a man who tries to run away from God, boards a ship, gets caught in a massive storm, is thrown overboard, and then swallowed up by a giant fish so that he would be given a second chance to do what God asked him to do in the first place.
And that’s just the beginning!
This term in Chapel, we’ll be exploring this incredible story in full.
(If you’d like to read it along with us, you can find it on Bible Gateway here. We will be reading one chapter each week.)
It is my hope and prayer that as we make our way through this incredible story, we will see that it is not so much a story about the exploits of its eponymous character as it is a story about the God who Jonah himself confesses is “the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (Jonah 1:9) and His mercy for even the most unlikely recipients.
May His mercy find you in the coming weeks, as we embark on a new school term.
Nathan Lee | Assistant Chaplain, Senior School