Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Jonah the Worm

From the dank, musty archives of the brain lab's sub-basement wriggles this Allen's Brain take on the story of Jonah.

In the Bible we are told,
That way back, in the days of old,
There lived God's very special servant, Jonah.
God said, "I've got a mission for you!
"Here is what I want you to do,
"Go tell my words to all the folks in Nineveh!"

"For those people are bad!
"They are very, very bad!
"They're as bad as bad can be!
"And if they don't change their ways
"In forty days,
"I will flatten their whole city!"

But Jonah wouldn't do what's right.
He hated every Ninevite,
And didn't want to tell them what God said,
"'Cause if I tell them why I was sent,
"They might change their ways and repent!
"I think I'll go the other way instead!"

So he packed his suitcase, grabbed his coat
And bought a ticket for a boat
That was headed off for Tarshish that same day.
It was as far away as he
Could get from where he's s'posed to be!
Yes, Jonah thought that he could run away!

But Jonah must learn a mighty big lesson:
When God tells you "Go," you don't second-guess him!
You do just exactly what you're supposed to do.
And it's because of this truth that we've mentioned
That God decided to get Jonah's attention,
By sending a giant storm, and oh, how it howled and blew!

The storm was bad!
It was very, very bad!
It was as bad as bad can be!
Hear the sailors rave,
"Oh who will save
Us from sinking into the sea?"

"Who here has angered the gods of the wind
"And the sea and the rain? Oh, who has sinned,
"And caused this storm? And who can make it halt?"
So they put everyone's name in a hat,
And drew one out, and God made sure that
They picked Jonah's name, and decided that it was his fault!

Then Jonah exclaimed,
"It is me! I'm to blame!
"I'm the reason this huge storm is brewing!
"You see, I disobeyed
"The command that God made,
"And so God set the whole sea a'stewing!"

"I'm a preacher for God
"And he sent me abroad
"'Go to Nineveh' was his command!
"But when the Lord said, 'Go!'
"I responded with 'No!'
"Instead, I turned around and I ran!"

"So now you all see
"How this storm came to be
"And why the sea is all a'roar
"But if you'll throw me out
"Of this boat, no doubt,
"It will get nice and calm like before!"

But the sailors did not want to throw Jonah down
Into the water to flail and drown.
They knew doing that would be wrong without even thinking!
So they frantically oared,
And threw things overboard
To try to keep their ship from sinking!

But the storm just got worse! They were in quite a quandary,
So they tossed Jonah out, like a big sack of laundry,
And into the water he fell with a SPLOOSH! and a SPLAT!
Then the storm went away, and the great winds stopped blowing,
So the sailors relaxed from their grunting and rowing
And they only followed the one true God after that!

Now Jonah was in trouble!
He was in a very bad place!
Then a whale came 'round
And swallowed him down.
And the name of the whale was "Grace."

Now "grace" is truly a beautiful word!
Here's what it means, if you haven't heard:
It's receiving something that you didn't deserve or earn!
Like when we do something that God says, "Don't do,"
And then he forgives us, well, that's grace for you!
God's grace is something that everyone needs, you will learn!

For three days Jonah was in that whale's belly.
It was dark! It was damp! It was really quite smelly!
And Jonah prayed to the Lord from the whale's inside,
"God thank you so much for rescuing me,
"As I sank to the very bottom of the sea!
"Thank you for this fish-shaped taxi ride!"

"Oh Lord, I know what I did was wrong!
"I ran away instead of going along
"With what you told me. I should have obeyed your command!
"But I've learned my lesson. I'll do things your way!
"Whatever you tell me to do I'll obey!
"Your messenger I'll be in every land!"

God was quite pleased when he heard Jonah's prayer,
And decided to let him get out of there,
Since Jonah had changed his mind and agreed to go preach.
When they got near the shore, God spoke to the whale,
Who got a sick tummy. And flopping his tail,
He suddenly threw up poor Jonah right onto the beach!

Then God said, "Jonah, go down to Nineveh!
"I want you to tell them that
"In forty days,
"If they don't change their ways,
"I'm going to squash them FLAT!"

And this time, Jonah did what he was told!
He preached to the young and preached to the old
Of Nineveh, "Forty days is all that you've got!
"Because you are evil! You're wicked! A blight!
"Unless you do something to make things alright,
"Then God will surely destroy you; like it or not!"

When the king of Nineveh heard what God said,
It filled him shock. It filled him with dread!
And so he decided that something must surely be done.
He sent out a message to all in the town,
"We need to be humble! We need to bow down!
"To show how sorry we are, but our change has begun!"

"For we know we are bad!
"We are very, very bad!
"We're as bad as bad can be!
"But perhaps, if we quit it,
"And we really mean it,
"God will pardon our society!"

And that's exactly what they did,
King and servant, adult and kid
Asked God if their sins he'd forgive.
They stopped doing wrong,
Prayed to God loud and strong!
So God forgave them and let them all live!

For though they were bad,
So very, very bad,
As bad as bad could be,
When they turned from their sin,
God smiled at them,
And showed grace to their entire city!

But Jonah was not glad!
In fact, he was mad!
So he prayed and told God what he thought.
"God, why did you spare
"All those bad folks in there?
"They should have been crushed on the spot!"

"See, that's why I ran,
"When I heard your command,
"To go preach to this evil place!
"I knew you'd be kind,
"And that you'd change your mind,
"And instead you would show them all grace!"

"A punishment that's bad--
"I mean, really, really bad--
"Is exactly what they all deserve!
"And God, your decision
"To grant their petition
"Was bad, too. You've got some nerve!"

So Jonah sat down
At a spot east of town,
And he pouted, and grumbled, and whined,
"I'll stare and I'll scowl!
"I'll snarl and howl!
"And just wait 'til God changes his mind!"

Now Jonah had made
A place to give shade
From the sun, and God made a vine grow.
It grew up and spread,
Its leaves over his head,
And made things much cooler for Jo.

For the desert's hot sun
Is surely no fun!
When you can't find shade any place!
That vine was a gift,
An un-earned uplift!
And the name of the vine was "grace."

Jonah was really enjoying that vine.
Beneath its broad leaves he'd relax and recline,
But God wasn't finished yet. He still had something to say.
That night, God sent out a worm to crunch,
And chew up that plant into juicy worm lunch.
By sunrise next morning, the vine was all shriveled away!

The sun's heat was bad
It was very, very bad,
It was as bad as bad could be.
"I'm starting to bake!
Soon I'll be Jonah steak!"
Cried Jonah in misery.

Then the Lord spoke to Jonah and asked, "Is it right
"That you should be angry about the vine's plight,
"When it grew up, lived and died without help from you?
"Then can you imagine what it's like for me?
"I made all those people in Nineveh, you see,
"Don't you think that I should be concerned for them, too?"

Now here in this story, we said that the whale
And also the vine had a name in this tale.
"Grace" was the name that we gave them, and soon we're gonna'
Tell you that also the worm had a name,
And when you hear it, you'll find it's a shame,
For the name of the worm that ate God's grace was. . .



The Ironic Catholic said...

Very clever--did you write that?

Allen's Brain said...

Yes. However, I owe partial credit to one of my grad school profs, Walt Zorn, for the main idea that Jonah was the worm who "ate" God's grace.
As a Bible scholar, you'll appreciate this, I think. It's based on the various ways the Hebrew ra'ah "bad" is rendered in Jonah.
It was originally presented to my congregation with illustrations on overhead transparencies.

The Ironic Catholic said...

I'm not a Bible scholar but I appreciate it anyway!