God Calls Us (3) God Calls Us Into Discomfort

Jonah and the Whale
(Origin unknown, posted by The Inclusive Christian)

Epiphany 3:  Jonah 3:1-5,10

What a bodacious amount of snow we had this week. I love being outside in the snow, and I love how cozy it feels to be inside afterwards: warm socks, hot cups of tea by the fireplace, a good book or board games. We love being comfortable and cozy.

I have also learned to be wary of the part of me that loves to be comfortable. On Tuesday night, I had been invited to dinner in Vancouver to meet a handful of other inclusive women pastors. We are a bit of a niche market (!) and I had been so excited to meet these women. But when Tuesday came, the idea of going into Vancouver on a dark, cold, night to meet unknown people felt uncomfortable compared to my warm fire, book, and tea. I know myself. However, I knew that if I leaned into the discomfort and pushed past my resistance, I’d have a great time. Sure enough, we had an amazing time together!

For the last three weeks, the lectionary texts have been circling around this idea that God calls us. In the first week, we saw how God calls us “Beloved”. That is a comfortable message. In the second week, we saw how God calls us by name. Again, a very comfortable and comforting message. This week, we talked about how God calls us into discomfort.

The thing is, we aren’t the only one God calls “Beloved” and we aren’t the only ones God calls by name—God shares God’s love with all people. Often we prioritize our own comfort without grappling with the ethical implications of God’s love for all people. Sometimes, God calls us to step out of our comfort zones and into discomfort for the sake of another’s well being and for the sake of our own growth in compassion, love, mercy, and justice.

We see this call into discomfort in the book of Jonah. The book is about a man named Jonah, who was a prophet of God from the Northern Kingdom of Israel, an area that had had its political sovereignty dismantled and people taken away by the Assyrian Empire. The book is also about Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, a city of creature comforts, beautiful architecture, and vast wealth built off the backs of the oppressed peoples they had conquered. And, finally, it’s a book about God, and the wideness of God’s mercy, justice, compassion. You can listen to the podcast to hear the entire story, but here are a few summary thoughts.

The book of Jonah holds up a mirror and invites us to take a look at some parts of ourselves that might make us a little uncomfortable:

We see our commitment to our own comfort, and the way we centre ourselves. 

We see the way that we assume God has a vested interest in ourcomfortand our side of things, and the way we “other” people and make their existence less important than our own. 

We see the way our cities are built and sustained by oppression of those with less privilege and less power. 

We see how nationalism and Divine Compassion are uneasy bedfellows: nationalism is concerned with the comfort and security of your people; Divine Compassion is concerned with the comfort and security of all people.

In Jonah, we see the vengeful parts of ourselves magnified. 

We see our apathy towards the suffering of others.

We see how both our vengeance and our apathy are in direct opposition to the vastness of God’s mercy.

We see all this, and hear an uncomfortable call to repent. 

We get to sit with Jonah in the belly of the whale, and later with Jonah in the heat, doing a little bit of soul-searching. 

Deep peace and blessing, 

—Anne

Rev. Anne Baxter Smith
Pastor, The Church at Southpoint 

The Reverse St Francis Prayer
Lord make me a channel of your
disturbance.
Where there is apathy, let me provoke,
Where there is silence, may I be a voice,
Where there is too much comfort,
and too little action,
Grant disruption. 
Where there are doors closed
and hearts locked,
Grant me the willingness to listen.
When laws dictate and pain is 
overlooked  . . . 
When tradition speaks
louder than need. . . 
Our own church . . . 
Our own poor . . . 
Disturb us, O  Lord,
Teach us to be radical,
Grant that I may seek rather
to do justice than to talk about it;
To be with as well as for the poor;
To love the unlovable as well as 
the lovely;
To touch the passion of Jesus in the
Pain of those we meet;
To accept responsibility to be church.
Lord, make me a channel of your disturbance.
— Gina Kohlhelpp

Worship Calendar

Location & Zoom. We meet on Sundays at 15639 24 Avenue, Surrey. Zoom is offered if you cannot attend in person. Zoom link. Meeting ID: 831 1690 9977 password: 753319

Listen to Sermons
Follow “Meditations from the Church at Southpoint” on SpotifyApple and Google

Blogs
Catch up on Anne’s recent blogs under “News” on our website, southpoint.ca

Sun Feb 18 
(1) Jesus Sought Me
Rev Anne Baxter Smith
Luke 5: 1-11

Sun Feb 25  Brunches
All OUT—No service at Sunnyside

Sun Mar 3
(2) Praise the Mount
Rev Anne Baxter Smith
Matt 16:13-20

Sun Mar 10
(3) I’m Fixed Upon It
Rev Anne Baxter Smith
Matt 16: 21-23

Sun Mar 17
(4) Teach Me
Rev Anne Baxter Smith
Matt 18: 15-22

Sun Mar 24 Palm Sunday All IN
& Potluck Lunch
(5) Songs of Loudest Praise
Rev Anne Baxter Smith
John 12:12-16

Sun Mar 31 Easter
(1) And I Hope
Rev Anne Baxter Smith
Luke 24: 1-12

Sun Apr 7
(2) Here’s My Heart
Rev Anne Baxter Smith
John 21: 1-19

New to Southpoint?

At Southpoint, it all begins with God’s love. Just as a plant grows, it receives sunshine, so we grow as we receive God’s love. At Southpoint, we are growing in our capacity to love God, ourselves, one another, and creation.

We seek to be a community of grace that is intentional yet organic, spacious yet authentic, grace-filled yet accountable. * We are fully welcoming. *

We encourage relationships rather than run programs, yet we recognize the importance of intentionality and structure as we nurture life together.

As a community, we seek to put our love in action. We value helping out on Sunday mornings, sharing food, and showing up in hard times. We keep our church life simple so folk have time to build relationships with family, friends, and neighbours. We encourage folk to serve in tangible ways within the wider community. We rent space rather than own a building, allowing us to do more with less, supporting missions at home and abroad.

Curious to know more?

These six slides express what motivates our ministry (best viewed on a monitor). Here’s the bio of our Pastor, Rev. Anne Baxter Smith.

If you’d like to really peek inside, sign up for our weekly Southpoint News (scroll to brown footer at bottom of page). The Southpoint News is a MailChimp distributed email—you can unsubscribe anytime and will not be added to our contacts list. Email us at office@southpoint.ca. Website: southpoint.ca.

Progress Pride Flag by Daniel Quasar (link)

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