Angry Enough to Die

I’m uploading a back-log of recorded sermons this evening. We missed a few weeks while our family was traveling, but we’re back on the job. Enjoy!

This Sunday, our scripture lessons from the Book of Jonah (Jonah 3:10-4:11) and the Gospel of John (John 2: 13-17) have a common thread: anger. Jonah is angry because God has spared the lives of the people of Nineveh whom Jonah hated; Jesus is angry because the moneychangers and others have turned the Jerusalem Temple Courts into “a den of thieves”.

One of my favorite quotes concerning anger comes from Presbyterian minister and author Frederick Buechner, who writes, “Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back–in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

Anger itself is not necessarily sinful; the sinfulness comes when anger is extreme, or prolonged, or comes to dominate your every waking hour. Then anger begins to eat away at our humanity, at great cost to our physical and/or mental and spiritual well-being. Jonah can be seen as someone who carries anger to the extreme due to his hatred of the residents of Nineveh; Jesus shows a more appropriate anger which is angry at the right persons, for the right reasons, for the right amount of time. Anger consumed Jonah, leading him to say “I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” Jonah actually makes a profound statement of the cost of prolonged anger to our well-being as it tears us up from the inside out. Jesus shows a righteous anger–he was not a ‘meek and mild’ prophetic figure—but he did not allow that anger to dominate his words or actions or define his personality.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday when we think about what it means to be “Angry Enough to Die”, and we reflect on some healthier alternatives!

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