Sermon on Sunday, June 23, 2019
What a story I have to tell you this morning!
Just because it is called a story
does not mean it is not true.
It’s a story long told in our faith
We read it – as was just read to us – from Luke 8
Jesus had just done a remarkable thing.
He had suggested to his disciples –
those twelve men who had been chosen
by him to be his companions
to learn from him
and later – to carry on his work –
he suggested that they get into a boat
and cross over to the other side of the lake –
that body of water also known as the sea of Galilee –
It’s a pretty big body of water –
I’ve been on a boat there –
it’s beautiful – with hills surrounding it –
there is this valley –
where sometimes the wind whips through
like funnel –
and it’s easy for storms to brew up there –
Jesus had fallen asleep –
and a squall develops –
and the waves come crashing on the boat
and it was being swamped –
and there Jesus is – asleep –
the disciples wake him –
calling – “Master – we are going to drown”…
Jesus gets up
rebukes the wind and the waves –
and the storm subsides –
and all is calm once again –
and he asks the disciples –
“Where is your faith”?
The disciples wonder –
just who is this one that they are following –
that he could command the winds and the waters…
They sail to the region of the Gerasenes –
a settled area on the eastern side of the lake –
just across for Galilee –
Jesus steps ashore –
and he is met by a man.
Now…this was no ordinary man
We don’t know his name –
and isn’t that sad.
But isn’t that often what happens to those
who are on the outside of things –
The man was from a nearby town
but now he was isolated from others.
How many people do we see who are on the outside of things
and they are nameless to us.
We seem they as a guy who is just roaming up and down
the streets of town –
someone who is homeless perhaps
or someone who, at least, lives in another part of town
that we don’t associate with –
we don’t cross paths with them
and so they are nameless.
One of the privileges for me
in working with the community table
is that I now know people’s names in the community –
not my church folk
but good and decent people –
and even some not so good and not so decent people –
but still people –
who deserve to be greeted by name
I still don’t know the names of all the people
I should know.
It’s something I need to keep working at –
being intentional about.
Not letting differences of skin color
stand as a barrier –
but simply to say –
hello! I’m don’t know your name –
I’m David….what’s your name?
I confess that’s hard for me to do.
But it’s something I think Jesus would have me do.
Pray for me.
I’ll pray for you –
and let’s be a little bold – for how can we show someone the love
of God – and not even bother to try to know their name?
Lord, help us.
this man that is on the shoreline
when Jesus steps from the boat
For a long time he had not worn proper clothes –
he’s not lived in a house –
but instead lived in the tombs.
Can you imagine –
living in a tomb –
living in a cave- where shelves had been carved out –
to lay the body of the dead upon
until their flesh rotted away –
leaving the bones to be gathered up.
The man lived in a place of death.
And was tormented by demons.
Sounds awful –
but is it all that rare?
We still have folk who live
like they were dead
haunted, tormented by demons.
You might be one of them yourself –
it might look on the outside like you have it together
but you know you don’t
You know you are missing out on life
because of that which holds your spirit captive.
It could be an addiction
It could be some huge disappointment
it could be dissatisfaction with how your life is
It could be a broken relationship
It could be any number of things
but it has control over you
and keeps you captive.
You don’t want it to be that way
but that is the way it is.
There’s this deadness inside
If that’s not you – Praise God –
but you probably know someone who is there.
Now, to most people –
Jesus just looked like a common, ordinary man.
A man of his day.
But when this one who lived among the tombs
saw him –
he saw something else
something that compelled him
I have to wonder – when Jesus said to his disciples
let’s go across the lake –
did he know this one was there –
I have a feeling he did.
Jesus knows when we need him
he knows when the time is right
when we are ready for a change
I believe he seeks us out
he knows what we need
and he comes to offer it.
He knew just how much I needed him
as a child –
He knew when I would show up at that camp meeting –
and he was waiting for me at the end of the aisle
in that old tabernacle in the woods –
he was waiting for me at the kneeling rail –
and even though my life was not bad
he changed it for the better –
I’m so glad that love lifted me!
Others saw just a guy getting out of a boat
but the demon-possessed man
cries out and falls at his feet
he yells out –
“What do you want with me,
Jesus – son of the most High god
I beg you –
don’t torture me!
Now – of course it was not the man
Jesus was going to torture
Even before he spoke to the man –
Jesus was speaking to the evil spirits
commanding them to come out of the man.
I love that detail of the story –
and I am not sure I saw it before working on this story.
Before Jesus hears a word from the man
Before he speaks to the man –
he is already at work.
He already knows what the problem is.
He already begins the healing
He doesn’t need to go through questioning
he doesn’t need to have the man share his troubles
He knows and he cares
and the power is already going out of him.
How marvelous is our Lord!
And in just the same way
Jesus knows our need
even before we pray about it,
even before we ask
And he is extending his love
He is extending his healing
Many times, the scriptures say –
that which possessed him
seized him –
and though the man was chained hand and foot –
and even kept under guard –
somehow he had broken his chains
and been driven away by the demons
into a solitary place.
Oh – that is another truth here.
That which enslaves us
often drives us into lonely places.
We withdraw – perhaps our pain is too much
sometimes when you see troubled folk
and they act like they are ignoring you –
it’s because they have gotten so used to the isolation
they have been cast aside so often
that it is just easier not to put themselves forward
another reason why we need to try to break down
And maybe it’s part of the hurt you are feeling
know that you do not need to be lonely.
Jesus is with you
and we want to be with you.
Jesus asks the demon –
what is your name –
Legion…is the answer given –
because so many demons had gone into him.
And then a kind of strange thing happens
it says the demons begged Jesus
not to order them to go into the Abyss.
See- the demons recognized that Jesus had authority over them
Yes, they belonged to the prince of this world – Satan –
but there is a king more powerful that they must
also answer to –
one’s whose power supersedes Satan’s power –
I don’t know why Jesus didn’t just send them to the abyss
and be done with them.
But there is a large herd of pigs there –
the demons beg Jesus to let them go there –
and he gives them that permission –
and when they do – they drive the pigs crazy –
and they rush down the steep bank to the lake –
fall off the cliff and drown….
Now, this of course does not sit well
with those who tended the pigs –
so they run off and report what happened to the folk of the town
and these people come out to see for themselves
what had happened –
I mean – maybe that was why Jesus let happen what happened?
That others might come?
When the town folk come –
they see Jesus –
and the see the man from whom the demons
had fled –
and he is sitting at Jesus feet.
He is dressed –
and they can tell right away that he is a changed man –
he is in his right mind –
He was cured!
They have an odd reaction
They do not rejoice that he is healed
Instead they are afraid –
and rather than ask Jesus to come and heal
whatever is wrong with them – or those they love –
they ask Jesus to leave.
And so, not ever staying where he is not welcome –
he gets in the boat and leaves.
Man – that’s a sad part of this story isn’t it.
There Jesus is…able to do anything they need him to do
but they ask him to go away.
They want nothing to do with him.
Never let us make that mistake.
Let us never send Jesus away.
The man begs to go with Jesus –
and who can blame him –
but Jesus sends him back to his home
with the command to tell how much God has done for him.
And he does just that.
There are so many places for us to find ourselves in this story.
Maybe we among those
who prefer that the crazy folks stay far from us.
We confess that we don’t want to know their names
and by our attitude we have sent them out to solitary places
We need to repent of that.
We need to know their names
We need to share God’s love and compassion with them.
We can help them – and if we can’t meet all their needs
at least we can know them.
At least we can let them know they matter.
A kind word can go a long way.
Maybe we are more like the man who was enslaved by
You know what your demons are
You know the daily pain of being under their control
You need healing.
Jesus is here.
He is willing
He is already at work in you.
I pray that today you would be released.
That you would be set free
that you would be returned to your whole self.
My Jesus can do that for you.
And when he sets you free –
tell others about it
for they need him too.
All of us have stuff
we need to be set free from
We all deal with sin
We all deal with brokenness.
We can feel isolated
We can feel as if we are controlled by things
other than the spirit of God.
It does not have to be that way.
Be set free.
Sit at Jesus’ feet.
Be made whole.
Be clothed with Christ.