Recently, a blockbuster movie director revealed that American audiences watched a different ending to his latest film than the one released in Europe. When the movie was previewed in the US, the reviews were unfavorable when the storyline wasn’t wrapped up within the two hour timespan, whereas European audiences enjoyed more ambiguity and room for speculation. If we're honest, most of the storylines in our own lives are more like the European version. We don’t always get the closure we're hoping for, and we're often in the tides of in-between times. This is the case with the story of Jonah...a narrative that was first relayed to a community stuck in the middle of their own story.
As we've been learning, Jonah has multiple layers, and it isn’t as straight forward as it first appears. When we tell the story, particularly to kids in Sunday School, we usually skip the ending and have Jonah giving a half-hearted sermon followed by the Ninevites changing their ways. If the writer had left it there, it would be a warning to all of us that God often includes more people than we are ready to include. After hearing the story, we could evaluate our ability to include others and learn our lesson, but that isn’t the end of the story. Jonah isn't just a hero who learned his lesson. Instead, the story leaves us with more questions than answers...questions that can help us see the character of God and where God is during the in-between times when we can’t see a clear ending. This week as Pastor Sarah wraps up the story of Jonah, we will see how we often miss the grace of God when it doesn’t end up looking like we had hoped.