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JONAH: God in Mind     Jonah 4:1-4                      (2nd service)

This is our fifth Sunday in a series that we’re doing on the book of Jonah, that’s guiding us through the Lenten season.  Jonah’s a short little book in the minor prophets; he’s minor, not because he’s unimportant, but because he’s short.  The book is short.  It’s significant but it’s only four chapters, and it packs a punch. 

Let me share with you a little nugget from the Paulson household.  Most weekends, my kids will ask to all spend the night in a room together and to do a sleepover.  Most of the time, Kelly and I say no because we want to remain sane, but there are moments of weakness and we’ll let them sleep in the same room together.  A few times, we walk by the door and sort of listen.  They play this game, “I have an animal in my mind….”  The game is that one of them thinks of an animal and the other two ask yes or no questions and try to guess what the animal is.  I thought, in light of what we’re going to be talking about this morning, that it would be fun to play that game together.  I have an animal in my mind and I would like you to ask yes or no questions to try to identify said animal.  Will it fit in a bread box?  I could fit it in a bread box.  Does it have a tail?  It does have a tail.  Does it say meow?  It does say meow, especially when you…..{Ryan makes kicking motion with his foot}.  Any guesses?  A cat.  Yes, it is a cat.  

An animal in my mind. Lean in for a moment.  You have a God in your mind.  You have a picture of what you think God is like.  For some of you, it’s a sort of large, bearded grandfatherly-type man.  Very kind and welcoming and soft-spoken.  For others of you, he may still have that beard, but he’s a little bit angrier.  He’s the “get off my lawn” God, the grand Torino God.  Little bit on edge.  For some of you, it’s just a big question mark.  You’re going, I don’t know what that God is like.  For some of you, it’s I don’t think that God exists.  Wherever you’re at in your spiritual journey, I just want you to know that you’re welcome here.  If your view of God is a big question mark, you’re welcome here.  If your view of God is a blank slate and an I don’t know or I don’t even think he exists, but this is what we do, we come to church, I am so glad that you are here, and I am so glad that you’re here today.  You’re going to get to see sort of the behind scenes that even people in the Scriptures struggle with their view of God.  They struggle with this question—What is God like?  

A.W. Tozer famously wrote in his book Knowledge of the Holy:  “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  That picture you have, that view you have, of what God is like is the most important think about you.  He goes on to argue that it drives everything we do, it drives the way we treat people in relationships, it drives the way that we live in the world. The view of God that you have is the most important thing about you.  So the question isn’t whether or not you have a picture of God in your mind, the question is, is the picture accurate?  You have a picture of God in your mind.  And JONAH has a picture of God in his mind as well.  

Remember, when we started this journey five weeks ago….Jonah, chapter one….Jonah is a prophet of God and he prophesied in roughly the eighth century.  There were other prophets in Israel at that time as well—Hosea and Amos were a couple of them.  Hosea and Amos were very critical about the way that Israel, specifically the king, Jeroboam II, was using his militaristic might and power to expand the empire.  They had unkind things to say about his reign and about his use of power.  Jonah, however, did not.  Jonah thought, “As long as Israel flourishes, it’s good!  Use whatever means necessary to get the job done.”  The word of the Lord came to Jonah (chapter 1):  The wickedness of Nineveh has risen up to me, God said, I want you, Jonah, to go to Nineveh to preach against it.  Nineveh—this place of pain, this place of bloodshed.  Jonah says thanks, but no thanks.  No! He hops on a boat and heads to Tarshish, a tropical paradise.  Instead of going and journeying into the pain, Jonah runs toward pleasure.  Don’t you wish the book of Jonah applied to us today?  

The author of Jonah is sort of stringing the reader along.  Remember, Jonah is brilliant Hebrew literature.  If you were to read through it, start to finish, one of the things you’d recognize is there’s this haunting question through chapters one through three:  Why in the world is Jonah running?  What’s his deal?  He’s a prophet of God and yet he feels compelled to run from God.  Why? is the big question all throughout the pages of Jonah.  UNTIL you get to chapter four.  The curtain’s pulled back a little bit and we get to see why Jonah is on the run.

Jonah 4.  But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, {The Hebrew could be translated:  In Jonah’s mind, it was exceedingly evil.}  and he was angry.   {What was evil?  What was Jonah angry about?  You have to go back to chapter three to find out.  Jonah’s angry because God offered mercy, not judgment, to the Ninevites.  And it ticked Jonah off.  Listen to what he says.}   And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country?  {God, didn’t I tell you I thought this was the way it might play out?}  That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.  Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”  And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”   

This is the first time in this whole book that Jonah and God have a direct conversation.  It’s the first time they sort of sit down and start to talk.  What do we find?  Jonah had a picture of God in his mind.  Just like you do.  And he was absolutely destroyed to find out that his picture of God was right.  He says, “I knew it.  I knew it!” I knew that you were gracious.  I knew that you were merciful.  I knew that you were slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.  I KNEW IT!  And that’s why I didn’t want to go to Nineveh in the first place.  I had this sneaking suspicion that this was the way this was going to turn out.  I tried to save us from this predicament, God. You wouldn’t let me save us and now look at the position we’re in!  You’ve got to show grace TO THEM!  Jonah’s view of God is being shaken because it’s being refined.  Jonah is seeing the real God and the real God is disappointing to Jonah.  

Jonah isn’t the first person in the Scriptures to wrestle with this.  You read through the Torah and you see Moses’ interaction with God, and he’ll say things like, “If this is the way that you intend to treat me, kill me now.” (Numbers 11)  Or you can read through Job. (Job 7:20) Job looks at God and says, “Do I have a target on my back?  What’s the deal?”  David will write in Psalm 13:  How long, O Lord, will you forget me?  Are you going to be silent forever?  They’re all in this spot—Jonah and Moses and David and Job—of going this isn’t the picture I wanted to have, or this isn’t the picture that I had, and now I’m left with this….this is the way that the world actually worked out.  This is the way things happened and now I’m left to wrestle with what do I do with that fractured view of God?  The truth of the matter is, friends, disappointment in God doesn’t reveal a failure of God, it reveals a faulty view of God. What’s crumbling around Jonah is not Jonah’s faith in God.  What’s crumbling around Jonah is Jonah’s view of God.  It’s his picture of what he hoped God was actually like and it’s crumbling beneath him and it’s falling apart.  He’s an Israelite prophet and he’s going, I’m not sure I like the picture of what’s actually true, and I don’t know what to do with that.  

My guess is at some point in your life, whether you’re a follower of Jesus or not, you’ve had a picture of God that you found out maybe wasn’t quite as realistic, or quite as true, or quite as accurate as you hoped it was. I have some friends that are reading through the Scriptures, doing a one year read through the Bible, and they just made it through Joshua.  There’s this cognitive dissonance going on like, God, I didn’t really realize that this was what you were like.  You seemed different.  Hey, it’s the Bible that’s shaking their view of God!  Some of you….maybe you went to the museum or picked up a science book and you started to read and you went, I’m not sure if that view of what might be true and what might be real and the view that I have from the Scriptures….I’m not sure what to do with that.  I’m not sure how those fit together, and it just sort of launched you into this season of going God, that view, that picture that I had of you in my mind, maybe there’s some parts of it that I need to let go of.  What do I do with that?  Maybe some of you….it’s just been LIFE.  You were told, as a Christian in college, that if you date and you’re pure in your relationship and you do everything right, you’re promised that your marriage is going to be pure bliss from day one.  Maybe it doesn’t work out like that for some people, or maybe God doesn’t promise that.  Maybe your view was hey God, if we’re faithful, you will be faithful to heal, you’ll be faithful to restore, you’ll be faithful to make this all right.  God, if we run our business in a way that honors you, you will bless it financially and you’ll make everything turn out right.  Or maybe your view of God was hey, you’re the type of God that will always tell me exactly what to do every single time.  And then sometimes God seems silent.  What do you do then?  Or maybe you had this view in your mind of God that he would protect you from hardship, that he’d protect you from pain, that he’d protect you from suffering, that he’d protect you from abuse.  And He didn’t!  You were left holding the pieces, saying God, I don’t know what to do with you now, because I thought for sure you were the kind of God that showed up in situations like that.   

The reality is that the fact that evil, and suffering, and abuse exists in the world does not mean that God doesn’t exist.  What it means is that there is no God who always prevents suffering, evil, and abuse.  THAT God doesn’t exist.  But it doesn’t mean that no God exists.  It means that we have to go back and wrestle with what in the world do we do with reality?  What do we do with life?  Because the spiritual life is distinctly grounded in reality, not fantasy.  It’s about taking God as he is, or not taking God at all.  Sometimes what’s false and untrue has to die a really, really painful, really difficult death in order for what’s true to actually start to emerge.  To hold on to what’s true of God, what’s untrue of God has to die, and when it does that is painful, isn’t it?  If you’ve ever walked through a season where God isn’t who you hoped he was or he turned out to be different than you thought, you know letting go of that view hurts.  it hurts.  

There’s a word for that that’s thrown around a lot now….it’s called deconstruction.  I’m not passionate about deconstruction, to be honest with you.  I’m actually more passionate about reconstruction.  I think THAT’S where the good stuff is.  We can let go of some things.  We might need to.  But what can we hold onto?  We’re all left in this spot where God is disappointing, or we FEEL like God’s failed us, or we KNOW we have to reimagine what God is like.  We’re all left with these three choices:  Will I continue to hold on to what I thought was true and what I hoped was true, even though I know in the back of my mind it’s not now?  Will I walk away altogether?  And say God, if you’re not like that—if you don’t always heal, if you don’t always bless, if you don’t always do this—than I’m out completely.  I know so many people who have walked away from their faith because they feel like God failed them.  What I want to say to you is it’s not God failing you, it’s your view of God that’s faulty that’s being revealed.  Or….will I incorporate what I now know of God into my view of him?  Will I let the false God die so I can embrace what’s actually true?  

This is where Jonah’s at.  This is Jonah’s journey in chapter 4.  He’s going to be our prophetic guide on our journey as well.  We want to wrestle with this question:  What do we do when it seems like God is disappointing and how do we start to move forward?  Jonah 4:2 — And prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was yet in my country?  That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.  What’s Jonah doing?  Jonah’s quoting Scripture.  Jonah is taking what he’s heard about God, read about God, studied about God, as a Hebrew prophet, and he’s parroting back to God….God, I had this sneaking suspicion this was true because I’d read it somewhere.  Where had I read it?  It’s in there somewhere.  Oh right, Exodus 34:6 says the exact same thing.  It’s one of the most important Scriptures in the entire Bible.  It’s THE place where God reveals God’s self.  Where God says this is what I’m like.  You can count on it.

The Israelites had just been led out of slavery in Egypt.  They’d been there for four hundred years.  They go into the wilderness.  Moses has this encounter with God and Moses asks him, “Show me your face.”  Show me what you’re like.  And God says, “I’ll tell you my name.”  Wait, what??  Face??  Name??  What’s going on here?  What’s the deal, God?  Why??  Have you ever thought about this: Why does God need a name?  Isn’t “God” good enough?  Not if you’re coming out of Egypt and you’ve been surrounded by a number of pagan deities.  If you were to go back to Pharaoh and say, “God sent me,” Pharaoh would probably respond by saying, “Which god?”  So this is the place where God sets himself apart from every other god, and says this is what I’m like.  The Lord passed before Moses and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord…”  Do you know that when you read that name LORD, in your translation of the Bible, usually when the translators are translating the name “Yahweh,” they capitalize LORD—all four letters.  When you read LORD and it’s in all caps, it’s Yahweh.  It’s a name.  So what God says is Yahweh, Yahweh and El or an Elohim that’s different or set apart, that’s completely other from the other gods.  What God does in giving Moses a name is that he makes himself personal.  He says listen, I’m not that interested in you just calling me God, as a title, I actually want relationship with you.  I have a name.  Call me Yahweh. 

Think about it, it would be strange if I called my wife “wife,” wouldn’t it?  Hey, wife, how you doing today?  Wife, how are the kiddos?  Wife, how was work?  No, no, no, no, we have a relationship, therefore, I call her Kelly, or babe, or, if we’ve been watching a lot of Seinfeld, I call her Shmoopy.  Yeah, because it’s personal.  

Yahweh’s distinguishing himself from the other gods.  He’s making himself personal, and look at these words:  merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.  He’s making himself look ridiculously good!  It’s as though God wants to say to Moses—then all these other authors…..thirty-two times this passage is quoted throughout the Bible.  It’s the most quoted passage in the Bible by the Bible.  You know who it sounds a lot like?  Jesus.   But Jonah can’t see it.  He can’t see it because of his own hypocrisy.  He can’t see it because he doesn’t recognize that that’s the kind of God he needs.  He needs God to be gracious and merciful.  If God were vindictive and angry, my guess is a disobedient prophet might be at the front of the line to receive his wrath.  

But Jonah can’t get there.  Jonah’s struggling with this view of God because THIS type of God Jonah can’t control.  Jonah can’t say to that God, “Here’s my agenda; if you could execute on it that would be wonderful.”  Remember how we hate them?  Remember how they’re wrong?  Remember how you’re on our side only and not theirs?  Remember that?  He can’t say that to that God.  Jonah wishes that God were way more like him.  As Voltaire famously quipped: “In the beginning God created man in His own image, and man has been trying to repay the favor ever since.”  Certainly Jonah falls in line with that!  

But I think Jonah also has a valid concern.  How is God suppose to be good to the promises he’s made to Israel and merciful to Nineveh?  It just doesn’t fit.  It’s the same thing people struggled with in regard to Jesus.  Jesus, how can you be the Messiah, and how can you bring the kingdom of God, like you say you’re bringing, if the empire of Rome continues to flourish?  How can both be true?  What the author of Jonah is leading the reader to see is something that maybe Jonah can’t see, but we can.  In order for Jonah to move forward in his spiritual journey, in order for Jonah to continue to walk with God in any sort of way, he cannot walk around those questions, he cannot ignore them, he cannot pick up the rug and sweep them under the rug and hope that they go away.  In order for Jonah to continue to move forward, he has to hit those questions head on.  What Jonah prophetically shows us is that honest doubt is oftentimes the gateway to deeper faith.  

What Jonah’s discovering is there’s a difference between what he thinks he knows to be true of God and what he actually trusts of God.  Let that sink in for a moment.  What he knows, or thinks he knows, to be true of God and what he actually trusts of God.  We’ve been on this journey, over the last few years, of re-engaging spiritual practices.  One of the reasons we are so passionate about that is that we believe you could memorize the entire Bible and not encounter Jesus.  That twelve inch journey from our head (what we know) to our heart (what we believe) is way longer than twelve inches, isn’t it?  I could tell you about the love of God.  I can preach about the love of God.  I can show it to you in the Scriptures and go, come on, you guys, it’s true, but it only actually changes your life when you hear it, not from me, but when you hear it from God.  You could walk out of here hearing it from and leave unchanged.  Oh but, friend, if you hear the voice of God whisper the goodness and mercy and love……I’ve been following you all the days of your life and you will dwell in my house forever…..if you hear Him say that, that is a game changer!  Dallas Willard once said, “Most of the time when we teach theology, we say, you should believe this whether you believe it or not.”  I know Jonah’s going, I know I should believe this, but I don’t.  What if a more beautiful faith awaits on the other side of your doubt and disappointment with God?  What if wrestling with disappointment is actually the place we meet Jesus most sincerely?  What if we’ve been rejecting the very thing that ushers us into Presence?  I think, a faith that engages doubt, disappointment, pain, and hurt is the only kind of faith worth having.  Because it’s real!  It’s alive.   

Jonah’s on this journey and here’s how it continues.  But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.  (v3)Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.  And he’s not going Pauline ‘to live is Christ, to die is gain’ on us.  He’s going, I’m so upset that this is who you are and this is what you’re like, I would rather DIE and try to get away from your presence than continue to live with THIS view and THIS picture of God in my mind.  I think if we had more text, Jonah would say, “You played me.”  I think Jonah would say, “You let me down.”  I was thinking destruction, You were thinking grace.  I was thinking justice, You were thinking mercy. 

Here’s what God said back to him:  And said, “Do you do well to be angry?”  So gentle.  So loving.  So…..Dr. Phil.  How’s that working out for you, Jonah?  You’re angry.  You’re upset.  Jonah, how’s that going?  Another way you could translate those words is “Jonah, are you justified in your anger?”  Notice that Yahweh doesn’t come alongside of Jonah and say, “How dare you be angry with me! You’re a prophet of God, if you can’t get it, who can?  Get away from me, out of my presence.  If you won’t take me as I actually am, you’re out of here!”  That’s not what he does.  You see God putting his arm around Jonah.  {Look up at me, friends.}  God is not threatened and he’s not offended by Jonah’s disappointment.  He’s not offended by Jonah’s honesty.  And he’s not offended or threatened by yours!  He actually wants to help Jonah walk through it.  Jonah, let’s talk.  Let’s talk about your anger.  Jonah, your anger is preventing you from seeing my grace in your life.  Jonah, your anger, as Paul will write later on to the church in Ephesus (Eph. 4:26-27) ….your anger is creating a space in your soul that’s giving the devil a foothold.  It’s creating a fire of evil in your life that you will never grow beyond, Jonah.  So, Jonah, let’s talk about the anger. Let’s not sweep it under the rug, let’s get it out in the open!   Isn’t this one of the most fascinating verses?  You give the devil a foothold.  So if you want to do spiritual warfare, fight and war against the anger that takes root in your soul.  Forgive people often.  That’s spiritual warfare.  What God is saying to Jonah is Jonah, you can’t move forward.  God knows that unexamined anger will continue to be a roadblock in Jonah’s spiritual development, because you never grow beyond your anger.

Here’s what God knows that Jonah doesn’t yet:  Anger has this power to destroy.  But it also has a unique ability to be a mirror.  Because examined anger is a diagnostic for self-discovery.  It’s where God wants to lead Jonah.  Do you do well to be angry, Jonah?  You may want to write this down: Anger is a terrible end, but it’s a decent guide.  It can shine a light on some things going on in our soul that maybe we wouldn’t see any other way.  You may go, I know I shouldn’t be angry, but what should I do when I’m angry?  That’s a great question! Here’s three things you could do:  1) Identify anger in your body.  I can remember the very first time I was sharing with my Spiritual Director…..Man, this thing this week just got under my skin.  He responded by saying, “Yeah, where’d you feel that in your body?”  Feel it in my body? I felt it in my head because I knew they were wrong!  And I was right!   I stepped back for a moment and went, well, no, actually, I felt it in my chest.  My heart started to beat quicker.  My neck probably got splotchy.  Here’s the truth of the matter, if you can identify where anger typically resides in your body, you can address it before you explode and go, “I’m angry!”  You can examine it.

The next thing you can do is follow your anger to its root.  Figure out what’s really there.  Yesterday, I was walking into our backyard.  We have a sliding glass door then a screen door.  I have done battle with the screen doors in my house.  I hate the screen doors in my house.  Three kids and we used to have a dog, so the screens doors were always getting bent and they never slid the right way.  It drove me bonkers.  It also drove me to go to Home Depot and to buy not one but two screen doors that I tried to replace said broken screen door with and I came up 0-2. Hundreds of dollars thrown down the drain over screen doors.  When we got new windows on our house and it came with a sliding glass door and new screen door, I felt like I’d been introduced to Jesus all over again!  Until yesterday!  First spring day—It’s open.  Wind blowing through.  It’s beautiful.  I start to go into the backyard and I pull the screen door and it goes NOWHERE!  Broken again!  And I lost it!  I kept going boom! boom! with the door.  I turn to Ethan (we were going to go play catch) and said, “I think I’m losing it.”  I had this voice in the back of my head…..Do you do well to be angry?  My answer was yeah, I do! Because this screen door won’t work right!  I was able to step back and ask myself why I was freaking out over a screen door?  I’m freaking out over a screen door because it’s open and I hoped it would be fixed.  God says, “Okay, a little bit deeper.”  I’m freaking out because….because I couldn’t fix it the last time, and I felt like a failure. God said, “Mmhmm, a little bit deeper.”  Lord, I’m guess I’m freaking out because I base a lot of my self-worth and identity on being competent. And I wasn’t.  And in so many ways, I’m not.  I sensed God go, “Yeah, that’s it.”  What if you started to drop that mask of having it altogether?  What if you didn’t need that fig leaf of competence to feel okay?  I said, “Well, I can drop that if you can get me a new screen door.”  {Just kidding.} 

Friends, our surrender is a part of our worship.  To bring the false self, to bring the fig-leaf self to Jesus and to say, “Here’s what I think it is.”  It’s a part of our worship.  What if we surrendered our anger to Jesus, and said, “Now it’s yours. You teach me.”  I love this picture of God that Jonah just latches onto.  You’re abounding in love.  You’re gracious.  You’re merciful.  You’re slow to anger.  Is Jonah right?  He is!  Jonah nails it!  {Look up at me for a moment.}  You were created in the image of THIS God.  You carry His image in your soul.  If you want to walk in the way that God has created you and designed you to walk, you walk in this.  You walk in love.  You walk in forgiveness. You walk in mercy.  You walk knowing that God is ridiculously good to you.  When Jesus comes onto the scene, he starts to address this faulty view of God and here’s what he says:  You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” {Which was part of their tradition; it wasn’t actually in the Bible.  They couldn’t point to a place in Scripture and say, “See, God said hate your enemy.”  You could find a place where He said to love God and love people, but they sort of added onto that…..people that are good to you.}  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.   {When you love your enemies and pray for people who persecute you, you know who you look like?  God.  You’re a chip off the old block.  You’re sons of your Father who’s in heaven.}  For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:43-45)   Have you ever noticed that the sun comes up on your neighbor who’s a terrible person and on your neighbor who’s a great person?  Have you noticed that when it rains it hits your neighbor’s yard, who was a jerk to you, and you, who you think is a pretty nice person?  Have you noticed that?  Have you noticed that God is ridiculously, abundantly GOOD all around?  Jesus says, yeah, walk in that way.  Maybe the thing that Jonah misses and maybe the thing that a lot of people missed is that the way of love is actually the pathway to freedom.

But it’s not easy, is it?  It’s way easier to live in the way of revenge.  It’s way easier to cling on to….I want justice in every situation, and I want to see it happen and I want to determine what it looks like.  But you were created in the image of God and that God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting of disaster.  That’s what’s true of God.  It may be disappointing to you.  I hope it’s not.  It’s what’s true of God.  And it’s what’s revealed in Jesus.  

So here’s the invitation this morning:  What if we took all the ways we felt like God disappointed us, or all the doubts that we had, or all the things we wished were a little bit different, what if we took those and instead of sweeping them away we brought them to God?  Because God doesn’t call Jonah to process his pain apart from Him.  Jonah prays!  He invites God into it.  What if we use the way that our anger starts to flare up as a mirror to grow deeper and to recognize who we are and ultimately, who God’s made us to be?  What if we said man, in the midst of all the things we don’t know and all the questions that are left outstanding, what if we said we’ve got this anger and it holds us and it keeps us, and it’s the thing that we continually go back to when the waves start to rise and the wind starts to blow and we just run back to this reality that changes everything: We’re loved.  We’re children of the Most High God.  We may not know everything, but you can know enough.

Here’s what I want to do.  I want to end and create some space.  We’re going to come to the table this morning.  I want to ask you what do you sense Jesus saying to you? What’s his invitation?  Can I share with you what I sensed him saying to me?  I sensed him saying:  Have space for people who are questioning.  I can’t tell you how much I long for us to be the kind of community of faith where we can be okay with welcoming people who say I’m a little bit mad at God and I’m not exactly sure what to do with that.  Or that say in honesty, I can’t reconcile the fact that God didn’t come through for me in this situation.  What if we were a safe space for people; not where we just gave all the answers, but where we met people with presence?  What if we were honest about our own journey and our own questions, and we didn’t distance God from that conversation but included Him?  What if….what if….we said Jesus is our north star and we’re going to pursue him with everything we have?  We have confidence that Jesus said if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.  That Jesus is what God is like.  He’s the exact representation of the glory of God.  May he be our pursuit.  May he be our longing.  May he be the thing that we have in our mind when we think about what God is like.  

As you come to this table this morning—broken body, shed blood—maybe, just maybe, you say yeah, this is what you’re like, God, that you meet us in these elements. That you speak a good word over us.  Your loving, good sacrifice for us and your arms around us.  As you come to the table this morning, get in your mind THIS is what God is like.  

Let’s pray.  Jesus, this morning, we want to say to you that we love you, that we know that you see us and that you love us.  If there’s pieces of the way that we think about you that are wrong would you point them out to us, and would you help us let go of them that we might move forward in a way of freedom, in a way of truth, in a way of life?  Jesus, I pray that you would meet us as we take these elements this morning.  Would you speak a good word, we pray.  In Jesus’s name.  Amen.