June 20, 2004

Luke 8:26-39

[26] They sailed on to the country of the Gerasenes, directly opposite Galilee. [27] As he stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn't worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery. [28] When he saw Jesus he screamed, fell before him, and bellowed, "What business do you have messing with me? You're Jesus, Son of the High God, but don't give me a hard time!" [29] (The man said this because Jesus had started to order the unclean spirit out of him.) Time after time the demon threw the man into convulsions. He had been placed under constant guard and tied with chains and shackles, but crazed and driven wild by the demon, he would shatter the bonds.

[30] Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"Mob. My name is Mob," he said, because many demons afflicted him. [31] And they begged Jesus desperately not to order them to the bottomless pit.

[32] A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged Jesus to order them into the pigs. He gave the order. [33] It was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the lake and drowned.

[34] Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. [35] People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus' feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. [36] Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved.

[37] Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave—too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off. [38] The man whom he had delivered from the demons asked to go with him, but he sent him back, saying, [39] "Go home and tell everything God did in you." So he went back and preached all over town everything Jesus had done in him.

<The Message>

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1. This is my last scripture in this appointment as an intentional interim pastor. There are several images that come to mind in saying goodbye.

Let’s start with the demon possessed person. While it is dangerous talk I do need to identify that the demons that keep us from being community with one another were alive and well when I arrived and there are still some of that Mob still hanging around. I have not been as effective as Jesus in rounding them all up at once and hieing them hence.

Confession of not being Jesus seems to be a starting point for a good “bye.”

2. And yet there have been some surprises along the way that a year into this 18 month appointment did have us regaining some smiles and laughter – getting back to our right minds. It simply makes sense to learn together to make our common situation better together than to compete to have the community only reflect our single bias. This recognition is holy.

3. In the midst of the successes and failures there have been charges of “too much change, too fast” when our sense of being scared was heightened by the talk of others or our own speculations and entitlements were called into question.

And yet, the closing charge is but a variation on the beginning challenge. We began with an image of GOD’s love running through everything and our task to identify where such love needs to be put into action through individuals and the congregation in our time and place. We end with the words of Jesus echoing and encouraging our going into the home community telling about our experiences of GOD.

In Luke this is Jesus’ first experience in Gentile territory. The healed person becomes the first missionary to the Gentiles. Jesus has visited this community where 44% or 20% attend church. This leaves a huge mission field right here at home. Will we see ourselves as healed and commissioned to tell of our experience?

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