Is there a person, a situation, or a place that scares you? Overwhelms you? Angers you? Makes you question God? Causes you to want to run in the opposite direction of where you should be going, hoping nobody finds you? That’s your Nineveh! The Old Testament prophet, Jonah, faced such a place, and experienced all of those emotions and then some. Yes, that’s right: Jonah. That poor man we learn about in Sunday school, who was swallowed by a whale, and then was spit up on a foreign shore, all because he didn’t obey God. We remember only the simplest of details about him, and if he reappears in our adult life, we smile, and remember that rather childish story about him…a whale can’t swallow a man! And so Jonah joins that Sunday school parade of interesting characters whose shenanigans are to remind us to obey God. Simple. Right? Wrong. Jonah and his experiences speak to us where we are, right here and now. Why? Because all of us have a Nineveh in our lives: a person, place or situation that is so formidable that we are tested to our very core, causing us to slowly watch our faith erode, questioning God and yet wanting, in the deepest recesses of our heart, to have some kind of victory. Jonah’s response to God’s command that he go and preach to a hugely powerful and scary city of Nineveh makes this prophet walk off the Sunday school stage and become a guide for us as we face our Nineveh.
That horrible night when Herod's soldiers rushed in and killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem is vividly recreated by a woman who lost her son that night. Later, she is strangely drawn to a woman and her Son at a well in Nazareth, only to meet them again on a hill—watching the Son being crucified. Rhonda L. Thorne Cramer uses the slaughter of the innocents in the Christmas story to confront one of the most troubling questions for our faith: the death of children at the hands of evil and the devastating aftermath for those who must go on. Inspired by the story of a little girl who was murdered in northern California in 1993, Rhonda L. Thorne Cramer was reminded of this dreadful part of the Christmas story and sought to wrestle with the issues it raises. No easy answers exist. But as our storyteller stands at the cross of the Son of God, His death brings her back to life and His love gives her the strength to go on. This story breathes new life into a painful chapter of the Christmas story and seeks to be a comfort to anyone who has sustained a faith-shattering loss.