-Rev Melissa Fain-
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
There are moments where I will be doing something, and someone brings up how I'm not doing that thing "normally." Last Tuesday multiple people noticed my writing style. No, not my grammar, although that's a mess too. No, my physical writing.
I don't follow the rules of how to write out letters. I start my "s" and "f" from the bottom of the page. I often cross from right to left. While I never notice anyone else writing any differently, people immediately see when I'm writing on a board. It's not that the outcome produces anything different, it's just the process shocks people.
I'm not normal.
Sometimes I wonder why I have to express that in words. Anyone who has known me for longer than a few hours knows I'm a little bizarre. If you're wondering why I'm okay with that, its all in the delivery. Those who love me know it's good. We can joke around about it. Often times, those people will include themselves. "We both know, we're not normal!"
Of course I'm not okay with those who say it like I'm a sideshow freak, or the butt of a joke. It used to get to me, but now I just quietly remove myself from their presence.
In my younger years, when I was far more broken than mended, these abnormalities were problematic. As I've said before, I was socially feral. I've had to learn American social cues like one learns a language. I couldn't understanding why someone would be offended by my honest questions. I didn't realize, especially in the South, honesty is blunt and we ignore blunt truths when they rub us the wrong way.
I saw what happened when adults would uncomfortably stare at my young self. That discomfort was them knowing I needed help, but them also knowing they believed they had no way to give it. I've seen far more danger in whispers about someone than the loud cog everyone just wants to shut up. We can address the cog. The whispers infect.
Still, I know what I was, and what I was was the reason I didn't think God was calling me to be a minister.
I struggled in school. Never to the point of failure, but enough. My backwards 'S's are a sign that I had to figure out what I was doing on my own because no one was going to help me with me homework. The damage had been done by the time I was in a stable environment, I was behind on language arts, and math.
I embrace that past, not because it is a trophy to hold up. It is not something to celebrate. I was strange because I didn't fit my broken self back together in a "normal" way. I have realized this helps me in two ways:
First, people see I've been there too. There are others who are broken, and I get broken. I also get how difficult the path is to restoration. It's not a one day experience, but a lifelong journey. It's this knowledge that laying ones brokenness out in the open will lead to jeers,. This could be from some who are primal in their reactions. A broken person couldn't survive the metaphorical hunt. Many hide there brokenness for that reason. This could also be from people who mistake broken for weird or an oddity. It's difficult to heal when people are laughing at you for not being "normal." Knowing I can walk beside those people, and not just clinically help, is part of the reason God called me. Took years to realize this.
Second, it's my fly trap. When people are ready to laugh off my broken past as abnormal or when I'm put in the sideshow freak column; I typically take note and file it away in my mind. Especially when those people are fellow ministers. They are dangerous. Some of them are better people now. Some have context they sorely missed in their younger days. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the ones who still don't get it, but call themselves a Shepherd to God's people. I dare those who want to hold my elementary school self, or middle school self against a 38 year old woman. I wait like a venus fly trap for them to openly mock that person. Those people would not be attacking me. I'm a 38 year old who spent decades processing and healing. Attacking my younger self would be attacking those who are still healing.
No one has flown into that trap as of yet, but those on the other side know something else. There's an anxiety when those triggers appear. All previously broken people have traps ready to snap. Often times they bite down on themselves. There will always be something that will remind me of the trauma. Knowing this, I have redirected the trap into something helpful.
In the end, I embrace who I am because God called me in brokenness to find wholeness, and in turn, help others find that wholeness too. Wholeness to holiness. It's the beauty of a sprout in the trunk of a dying log. It's the joy of new life when everything looked dead. That's why.
What right do I have to write anything? I was not a fan, and magically pretending I was would be disingenuous, and a lie. There are people I would not invite to speak of me at my death. In that same way, I doubt I'd be invited to speak of her now. There's still something that I must say. It's a realization we must address.
One of my favorite childhood summer activities was collecting cicada shells off the trees. The idea of a bug crawling out of their own skin and leaving it behind captivated me. I could do anything to that shell and the bug would be just fine. Sometimes I laid them out and crushed them to dust. Sometimes I collected them on my dresser. I always began the same, carefully removing them from the tree to save those tiny legs clinging to the bark.
Yet I never knew what the cicada really looked like. My potential imagination sometimes made it look like a giant butterfly, almost a moonlight fairy. Sometimes it was a rainbow beetle. It's shell shimmering all the colors of the rainbow, as it crawled among the trees.
Then, one day, my great grandmother pointed one out to me, and I was horrified. That didn't look magical at all! It looked horrifying! My illusions were shattered. Now I knew the truth. It was thing of nightmares!
After that moment, I would always tell the truth of cicadas to my friends as we would collect the shells. "These shells are really neat, but the bug that comes out of them are monstrous.
Many years later I would smugly share my immense wisdom on cicadas when the person I was imparting this wisdom kindly disagreed. "Cicadas are beautiful. It's the shell that's ugly. Have you ever seen a cicada that's just shed it's shell? Their magical. The shell is covered in all the dirt, darkness, wind and rain. Look." He pulled me to his computer, because this was long ago enough that we all had dumb phones. Pulling up an image of a cicada right after shedding it's skin, I saw what he saw.
A year ago and a day from the day Rachel Held Evens passed away I apologized to Beth Moore. I have no idea if Moore ever saw that apology, and I'm sure she had no idea that I needed to apologize. I don't pretend my digital footprint is worth anything beyond the words typed out in these meditations.
A year ago I asked forgiveness for thinking less of Beth Moore because she was an un-ordained female Christian leader. I didn't realize she tried to earn a degree in religious studies and was shunned by her males colleagues. A year ago I placed Moore against Rachel Held Evans writing that people like Rachel Held Evans exist to keep really smart and worthy women within a seminary world down. As I wrote privately, she was safe. While others were suggesting it was her honesty that made her scandalous, I was saying her lack of education made her palatable. She wasn't ordained, so if she ever went too far it could be dismissed. I deeply believe this is why our biggest female Christian speakers are just that, speakers. We want a female voice, as long as that voice doesn't have too much power.
When I wrote the Beth Moore post I felt a call to include Rachel in that apology, and what she represented was so personally hurtful to me as an ordained minister, I couldn't. This was made the most clear when I openly shared how I took a male username for 1/2 a year. People called me a liar for having a username, where I didn't say one way or another about my gender. Being called a deceiver made me angrier at Evans, who seemed to flit into fame because she was outside authority. For the sake of equality, I needed to focus on women within authority. Evans was taking away that focus!
Now she's gone, and it hits me in my guts like a ton of bricks. What I hated, what has personally hurt me was not Rachel Held Evans. It was the shell surrounding her. Now she is gone. The beautiful moonlight fairy, rainbow beetle, has left, but the dirty systemic issues remain. It wasn't her fault that the system worked the way it did. It's not her that hurt me. It's that damn shell that's pained me all these years, and continues to hurt.
Now what remains, that shell, is vile. We all have them, forced carapaces. Society paints, tattoos, cuts it into our identity. Society's idea of who we should be for the world is a dirty covering, and that is all. Much like our accumulated wealth, we can't take it with us in death.
Now we are left with it, and we can do anything to that shell. We can glorify it. We can put it on a shelf and move on. The one I personally like is we can crush it to dust.
I'm done making enemies of my sisters in faith. I'm done being angry because someone has decided my carapace speaks to my soul. We won't take those shells with us in the end. Why do we let systemic belief cover over the Truth? Every day I learn how I'm wrong. I pray as I make steps in the right direction we can forgive one another, and not beat one another with the leftovers.
-Rev Melissa Fain
-Rev Melissa Fain-
I've sat on this post since November. Advent, Christmas and Bible 101 were distractions to coming back to this. Lent's "God is," series was a needed reminder.
Six months on the internet is a really long time! Memes are born and die in that time. Campaigns rise and fall. A collective can feel the pride of success and the bile of defeat. When I took on this six month endeavor is was to do more than follow through on having a male pastoral handle for six months on Reddit. It was also to keep track of my feminine experience IRL (in real life). We don't often pay attention to what's happening around us, because it is our "normal." I didn't want to do something digitally without questioning what was physically happening at the same time.
Where I was: I'm at a place today where this is genuinely a difficult question to answer. I remember there was a time when elbow grease and gumption could get you anywhere. When an ordained minister, and woman flat out told me, "I hope you have skills somewhere else, because you'll need them," I did't listen. Well, I listened, but I had my naive hope. If my chips start lower than the boys, than I just have to be better than the boys. If people are throwing out biblical passages without context, I just have to be prepared to explain them in a well thought out way. Ministerial respect was always earned; not blindly given.
I had to believe this was all there was. There's no other way around it. Why would a seminary accept my money and let me focus my education on biblical and spiritual studies if it wasn't true? Why would a denomination allow me to even enter the ordination process unless my call was going to amount to something?
Where I am: PastorJerome came about because I finally saw something, and I knew there was a way to show it. I wanted to take the male username for two reasons.
First, if males were truly the ones called by God, than it wouldn't matter whether people thought my username was male or female, God would not allow me to look pastoral. I know that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. I'd listen into conversations where someone would explain how they just felt he was the right minister for them. The way these congregants believed the Spirit moved them, seemed like an easy test. The same people who callously wrote out that they knew I wasn't a minister, would have the same feelings when the username was masculine.
Second, I wanted people who were not normally on the internet to see what I saw. We are all cloistered in our protective little bubbles, with people who think just like us. People are not in church anymore. That's why I'm outside church. It has given me a different experience than those female ministers who are loved by their congregations. I wanted to show the battle is far from over.
What I discovered was not even close to what I was expecting. Unhealthy levels of trust was thrown my way with a male username. When I expressed this fact after everything was done, the detractors came out of the woodwork. I was called a deceiver. Basically, how could I make someone feel I was Spiritually called by God? They couldn't see the other side of the coin, in that, giving a male minister trust for the sake of trust is dangerous. In their eyes, I stole their trust. The language immediately changed when my true identity was known. Being known only made the blatant double standard easier to see. Although, I'd doubt the people pronouncing it would realize what they did.
Where am I going? Six months was supposed to be my finish line. I'd carry this project to a point, express what it meant, and move on. Let me make this crystal clear: By moving on I meant it could reignite or extinguish whatever was left of my willpower. It was either going to be the beginning of a new chapter, or an explanation for why this minister was spiritually crucified. Some of the congregants of Fig Tree heard the dire tones in my words. Even if they had no idea what the context was at that point, they pulled me aside to express why this ministry means something to them.
What ended up happening was different. The IAMA didn't give me a bouncing off point, nor did it douse the flame. There were people who wanted me to continue. I remember saying to a friend, "Continue what?! The six months are over!" At the same time, there were those trying to convince themselves and myself that I did absolutely nothing meaningful for the past six months. That IAMA was seen 118 thousand times just a few weeks following it's publication. Since then, the story has been on Pathoes and the Disciple's News Service. That audience is bigger than any of the mega churches within my denomination.
Here is the cold hard truth: I need help. Part of the reason Fig Tree has been at 2pm is for convenience. You can go to your traditional worship experience, and make it to Fig Tree's livecast while still having time for a sit down lunch. Back when we first started livecasting I thought that was the answer. It's not. We need a "board of innovators." (Thanks James Brewer-Calvert for giving me that term.) We need ministerial help that thinks outside the physical building of church to find God's call to church beyond walls. We need people, male and female, who are willing to sacrifice their Israel to come join me in Babylon.
I'm not done yet. You have yet to start.
-Rev Melissa Fain-
1 Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. 5 The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Human One[a]must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others.10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. 12 But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.
Luke 24:1-12 CEB
Today is not Lent. Lent ended at midnight. Today is Easter, but Lent can never end with Lent. How dare we conclude with "God is dead"! How dare we stop in a cosmic tragedy. That's not the Christian story at all!
Christ is alive! The chapter ended with death, but the book concludes in life. We have good news! We have something to share. Christ is alive! Christ is alive indeed! The light has won, and today we celebrate the dawn!
-Rev Melissa Fain-
John 11:35 NIV
I was in middle/high school. This was before I realized I would go to seminary, and it wasn't even on my radar. I did not have a public speaking voice, and speaking in public terrified me. I knew what good preaching was, and I wasn't it. Still, I had this desire to learn and know. I would pull my minister, Rev. Dr. Jerry Gladson, aside and just ask questions. I used to pick books in the bible and just email pages of questions. Romans broke me. This is why you don't read the Bible from front to back. Both of the Corinthians are better first letters.
Anyway, When I approached Jerry this particular time I wasn't currently reading scripture. I was mourning. My grandmother on my Dad's side passed, and it left me with questions. Why do we, as Christians, mourn? Do we believe in Heaven or not? If we believed in Heaven why did we weep?
I'm an adult now. I've been a minister myself for nine years. I get the look he gave me when I asked the questions. I can put myself in his shoes. Usually my questions were emailed, carefully numbered for easy separation. I engaged him after Sunday worship with no time to research. I don't recall anymore what he told me, only that I had clearly unbalanced him as I would have been unbalanced myself. I remember he didn't give me much, which was understandable. Not many of us spend time contemplating death.
I, however, could not let it go. While theological questions have come and gone, this question has remained with me. Many years later, I have an answer.
Some things stay dead. Heaven is not a place for our human selves. Heaven is not a place for our racism, misogyny, addictions, lusts, or [insert things that keep us from God here]. At the same time, those are things are things that shaped who were are or were. When someone passes it marks the end or conclusion to something. We will never know that person, as we knew them, ever again. Their memory eternal, but their physical being gone. That is the space where Christians mourn. Even though many of us believe there is something more, we also know somewhere, we've lost something forever.
The Disciples had an example of how to behave the day after the Crucifixion, and that example came from Jesus himself. In the passing of Lazarus, in that moment of true death, Jesus wept. No words. Just tears.
Why do we, as Christians, mourn? Because Jesus gave us space to mourn. Something has died. It will never exist in that way ever again. God is dead.
Let us pray
(Sit in a space and let the silence speak to you.)
-Rev Melissa Fain-
32 As they were going out, they found Simon, a man from Cyrene. They forced him to carry his cross. 33 When they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Skull Place, 34 they gave Jesus wine mixed with vinegar to drink. But after tasting it, he didn’t want to drink it. 35 After they crucified him, they divided up his clothes among them by drawing lots. 36 They sat there, guarding him. 37 They placed above his head the charge against him. It read, “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” 38 They crucified with him two outlaws, one on his right side and one on his left.
39 Those who were walking by insulted Jesus, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross.”
41 In the same way, the chief priests, along with the legal experts and the elders, were making fun of him, saying, 42 “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. He’s the king of Israel, so let him come down from the cross now. Then we’ll believe in him. 43 He trusts in God, so let God deliver him now if he wants to. He said, ‘I’m God’s Son.’” 44 The outlaws who were crucified with him insulted him in the same way.
Matthew 27:32-44 CEB
At nineteen years old I walked into the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC. I wasn't mentally in the place I needed to be half a lifetime ago. Perhaps my mind was incapable to process that level of horror. Perhaps, and I think this is more likely, I hadn't my own family as context. I couldn't put a face to the abuse and death.
Then I got married and had kids.
This series happened because of the forward in Elie Wiesel's book, "Night." I read it during Advent, or what most call the Christmas season. Thirty-eight years old, I'm ready now, especially for the boy.
Wiesel, a man who had survived the Holocaust when the rest of his family had not, meekly told the prolific writer, François Mauriac, about this boy. The concentration camps would do hangings of the "guilty." Most of these hangings had been a numb experience. So much death and no time to process. Then there was this boy, too light for the drop to break his neck. He fell, and he was slowly being suffocated. Someone behind Weisel remarked, "Where's God?"
The answer brought me to tears. God is the hanging boy. God is being executed.
Mauriac, left speechless by this story, realized far later that this boy was also the Christian story. We can talk about God being just that. We don't need to sit down and watch a movie to reenact the the Passion of Christ, not when our own history does it all on it's own.
We kill God all the time and force others to watch. This is the only day out of the Christian year where the Good News is terrible. Good Friday is our condemnation laid flat. We have been found guilty, and someone else is paying the price. Do not smile, and don't look away. The person we've condemned is not guilty at all. Something has terribly and completely broken. Where is God? God is a hanging boy.
Let us pray:
Forgive us, for we know not what we do. Amen.
-Rev Melissa Fain-
23 I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. 24 After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” 25 He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” 26 Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.
1 Cor 11:23-26 CEB
I love communion. It is the richest symbol in the Christian tradition. I just don't think we fully understand how backwards it must of felt to the Disciples. Scripture told them Jesus was the mighty warrior Christ, come to smite all those against Israel.
Communion happened during Passover. Passover is a sacred meal. It was a reminder of the last plague in Egypt where the Spirit of God literally passed over the Israelite home while killing the first born of the Egyptian families. All they had to do was sacrifice a lamb and put it's blood by the door. That's the God these Disciples were looking for. They wanted to be excluded from the pain, while pain was being wrought on their enemies.
Then he said those words. Bread is Jesus' broken body? What does that mean? This cup is sacrificial blood? Jesus! Please no! God should be the one smiting the enemies, not becoming the blood at the doorway!
I get agitated, angry, and/or arrogant sometimes. Communion is my reset button. Communion is a reminder that I don't always get it. Maybe I get ahead of myself, or lose perspective. I forget that my forms of servitude were set free by the sacrificial blood painted on the door to my escape. Then I come to the table, not as a sinless child of God, but as a repentant one.
I still don't think the Disciples got it, even after the symbol was first enacted. They wouldn't get it until everything was said and done. That's later. Now we sit with the scandalous truth. God is Communion.
Pray with me:
Dear Lamb of God, As you break, mend me. Amen.
-Rev Melissa Fain-
1 Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was making more disciples and baptizing more than John (2 although Jesus’ disciples were baptizing, not Jesus himself). 3 Therefore, he left Judea and went back to Galilee.
John 4:1-3 CEB
I buried my head in my hands as I contemplated what to write. Outside, the night continued. The dawn just around the corner, but our piece of Earth remained dark and cold. Was there room for jokes? Could I lighten this just a bit? After all, it was Wednesday. Holy week doesn't fully begin until Maundy Thursday. Right?
The seriousness of it all was taking hold. This really was the point of no return. The seat belts have been buckled. we've been given a go, and now we are headed for our first drop. The click-click-click of the roller coaster car a constant reminder of what's coming. Was that excitement or fear making my heart beat a little faster? I couldn't tell.
We all have those moments of no return, and the realization of what they mean. On the Wednesday before Easter it means God is not winning. The Pharisees had been playing a deadly game with Jesus since he rode into Jerusalem. In the middle of the week we have our pivot point. Jesus has been able to avoid falling into those traps. The Pharisees are going to get what they want.
The very people tasked with keeping God safe and secure, are the ones who are doing it. But destroying this Jesus character is for the best. He was too radical. He didn't really understand the law. He couldn't hear when told there are times and places for these things. The people will understand, eventually. It had to be done...
Careful. This is not a game we want to to win. God is not the winner.
Pray with me:
Dear God, Loss is not an easy idea for me to wrap my head around, but if you are there,.. Amen.
-Rev Melissa Fain-
Looking up, Jesus saw rich people throwing their gifts into the collection box for the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow throw in two small copper coins worth a penny. 3 He said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than them all. 4 All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had to live on.”
Luke 21:1-4 CEB
That King Herod was a great guy, wasn't he? Oh, he wasn't? Are you sure? If I remember my history, he was the one who rebuilt the temple after the Babylonians destroyed it so many years before.. Doesn't that put him in the good category?
One of the key points of our faith is the journey. Change is only meaningful if there is a path we take to get there. However, we live in an impatient culture, a culture that does not honor hard work. Immediate gratification, and those who can obtain it, are societal celebrations.
(Here's where I upset a nice large group of people. To be clear, I understand I've upset several for the last few months. I'm pretty sure this is where I'm going to upset those who haven't been upset yet.)
When we give our journey to government, we've failed. Of course there are exceptions, but please play this out with me.
Herod failed because he was an all around terrible guy. He was all about himself, to the point that he named his own children (male and female) after himself. The Israelite people failed because they gave the sacred duty of rebuilding the temple over to the Roman Government instead of doing it themselves. Herod was allowed to look like a hero while tainting the sacred space of God's home. Rome now had a foot hold in something that didn't belong to them. The symbol for their government was at the entrance to God's home.
I know the frustration. If a group of people are not going to help the least of these willingly. It's far too easy to then find the next steps to force them to help. It completely destroys the journey to get straight to the outcome.
I'm far more radical than I often let on. I believe Church, and other religious and social organizations, are the best givers of social assistance. (When they are actually doing such things.) These groups know the needs of their community, and can meet them faster than any government program.
Now- would I suggest we cut all social government programs tomorrow and give it to the community? No. We're lazy. We've given the temple to Herod, and now there's a red white and blue flag waving in front of our missions. We have to step up, and step out. In other words, we need to take back our purpose towards service to the world, and get out of our sanctuaries, and into the world to do it. Like I said at the beginning. That's a journey. That's a relationship. God is not theirs.
Pray with me:
Dear God, help us take back our service to you. Amen.
-Rev Melissa Fain-
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. 41 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!
Matthew 12:38-42 CEB
Here is my go-to on Biblical interpretation: We should read scriptures for action. What should we, the reader and listener, be doing? If the action falls on someone else, we've done it wrong.
This is why many Pharisee centered sermons get it wrong. Many take them as opportunities to pat their own congregation on the back. The Cliff Notes version being: "Ain't it great we're not them! Look at what those silly Pharisees did? Yep. Jesus is good. Go enjoy your lunch.,"
Anyone within the church should see themselves as the Pharisees. We are prone to fall into habit, and to avoid accepting wrongdoing. That's all of us. None of us want to believe we could be doing something wrong, but at some point all of us find failure. That's the nature of the imperfect human.
In the scripture above, Jesus is in a verbal battle. The Pharisee's not only want to crucify Jesus, they want a reason to do it. They were not happy because Jesus was, almost bluntly, saying "God is not yours." This is not to say God excludes. That's not what those words mean. The above scripture puts the Pharisee's on the outside, and the Gentiles (the outsiders) as those from Nineveh. The "Queen of the South" are the Gentiles. Jesus is basically telling the Pharisee's that the power is going to shift, and those who were hurt by their power grabs, will be vocal about their pain.
Ain't it great we're not them?
Well... we have a choice. We are the Pharisee's: Insiders who are clueless to the needs outside our own context. We are also Nineveh: Someone's enemy who God is calling to be part of the flock. In both cases, God is calling not for our own benefit, but for the sake of those we might be unknowingly (or sadly knowingly) hurting.
Here's my other part of Biblical interpretation- it hits upon the universal story. I believe that story is about God's love for the creation, and the redemption of that order. God calls us to that choice because God loves us. God wants us to see beyond ourselves. God doesn't belong solely to one group of people. God belongs to everyone. God is not yours.
Let Us Pray:
Dear God, help me see you through someone else's eyes. Amen.