July 4: Shared Summer Service with Emmanuel Waterloo and Rev. Jenn Hind-Urquhart

Readings from the Scriptures (CEB) Jonah 2:1-9

Jonah prayed to God from the belly of the fish:
“I called out to God in my distress, and I was answered. From the belly of the underworld I cried out for help; you have heard my voice. You had cast me into the depths in the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounds me. All your strong waves and rushing water passed over me. So I said, ‘I have been driven away from your sight. Will I ever again look on your holy temple? Waters have grasped me to the point of death; the deep surrounds me. Seaweed is wrapped around my head at the base of the undersea mountains. I have sunk down to the underworld; its bars held me with no end in sight. But you brought me out of the
pit.’ When my endurance was weakening, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, to your holy temple. Those deceived by worthless things lose their chance for mercy. But me, I will offer a sacrifice to you with a voice of thanks. That which I have promised, I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the Lord”

By Way of Water

You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your flood surrounded me” Jonah, Chapter 2 Verse 3

By way of chance, I wrote the following words sitting waterfront along the shore of Lake Ontario:
As I watched the waves roll up and crash upon the shore I thought about Jonah, I wondered how it must have felt to be cast overboard, to find oneself tossed about upon the rough waters of the deep.
What was is it like to be thrown overboard?
Was Jonah flailing about desperately trying to keep his head above water? Or was he resigned, waiting helplessly for a tide to simply come and take him under?
The role of water in Creation, in Faith and in Life is an important one.
Jonah was cast into water, Jesus rose up from the water and it is by way of water for which we become baptized; we become new creations in life and in faith.
Life cannot begin, nor can it be sustained apart from water. Water, then, is the lifeblood of creation itself for it was the only element present with God, in the beginning, and it is the element that is present when Jesus, rises up, causing it all to be born anew.
Everything old and new, comes by way of water.
In many ways this time of pandemic is our way of water.
It is our rough sea; it is our shadow of the deep.
In many ways it feel like we’re all cast overboard.
Are we not all in a strange and chaotic place that threatens to overwhelm us, toss us, misplace us and take us under?
It sure feels like it most days.
Some days I find myself kicking and flailing trying to keep my head above water and other days I am floating upon the surface resigned to the next wave that will come and take me under.
Interesting that God’s whale serves as a vessel of safety during this threatening time in Jonah’s life. Under the surface, insulated from the sea, Jonah rests, contemplates and realigns his deepest connections while residing in this belly that God made.
So where is our whale?
Where is our Belly of Safety as we navigate these uncharted waters of pandemic?
It’s in the same place it’s always been. It’s in the place where Love Lives. Love is the insulation wrapped around us, holding the rough waters at bay.
Jonah ran from God, boarded a ship to sail to other side of the earth to escape the reach of God but in the end he was unsuccessful because God cannot be outran,
God cannot be escaped.
Creation was born for the purpose of love and so are we.
The whale is God wrapping around Jonah.
Jonah is engulfed in God while he resides in the underbelly of the world, while he endures his darkest hour and I believe God is wrapped around us too, now, waiting, creating and becoming.
Our world is different, yes, and there is pain and there is hardship and there is death. In life there is always pain and hardship and death, but a life of faith is knowing that love will always outrun us; Love will always engulf us and tend to us; Love will always create from us and for us a place to simply be loved.
Love will outrun us. Love will be waiting for us when we show up and when we’re ready.
God will spit us up back onto our beaches so that we can go and be the people we’re meant to be.
We are a people who proclaim God’s Love even in the places we don’t want to, even from the underbelly of the world because, when the seas are rough, we proclaim. When the seas are calm, we proclaim, because we know we are always being made new and the path to newness is never smooth but, rather, a darkness made fruitful.
God is always up to something new, and so, let us wade awhile in the safety of the Spirit.
Let us languish in love. When darkness comes, let us fight back with the beauty of love.

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