Tuesday, June 14, 2016

e-vo for week of June 15

Dearest e-votees,

In our appointed gospel text for this Sunday Jesus wanders through all sorts of social taboos to make a connection with a troubled man. The man is restored and delivered.

The good news of the gospel is just that: Jesus enters into the world to make connection with us--a troubled humanity. He comes to restore us and to bring deliverance.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is that part we don't hear. What was it like for that man (imagined as Crazy Joe in Gordon Atkinson's "James, John and Crazy Joe" which can be found in his book RealLivePreacher.com and poetically imagined as Crazy Bill by poet Tim Melton at Sacrosanct Gospel) to be restored to his right mind and then called to stay and bear witness to his home town? How did that go? How was he received? How long did he abide with that call? We really don't know. Interesting to imagine. Peace,


26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Luke 8:26-39, NRSV

Jesus alights on the shore where a demon-possessed man (who previously lived in the nearby cities of the Decapolis--see Mark 5:20) has no clothes--a little awkward. He lives in the tombs making him ceremonially unclean--more than a little awkward. He had been chained up but kept busting through the chains. He cries out and cuts/bruises himself with stones (see Mark 5). This is not a well man. He is dangerous and powerful and self-preserving sensible people would keep their distance. He causes people to be unclean and unable to participate in regular ritual religious life and spiritually sensible people would keep their distance. He has every appearance of being off-kilter and deranged and unable to carry on a conversation and socially sensible people would keep their distance. This man is a iridescent "DO NOT APPROACH" sign--yet Jesus approaches.

In conversing with the man he determines that there are many demons in him. So many that he goes by the name of "Legion". The demons are afraid that Jesus will return them from whence they came. After a quick negotiation Jesus lets them go into the nearby pigs (unclean animals which would also make those in their presence ceremonially unclean). The demonically-infused swine (deviled ham?!?) plunge themselves off the cliff and are drowned. The man is made well.

The swineherds go into the Decapolis and tell what has happened. The people return with them to see what has transpired. They see the man's lot in life has been reversed. He is dressed. He is outside out of the tombs. He is in his right mind. The people respond in fear. This seems to be the terrified fear not the reverential awe fear. They send Jesus away. Perhaps they are afraid of demonic reprisals. Jesus obliges them and leaves.

The man wants to go with Jesus but Jesus tells him to stay and to proclaim what God has done for him. So he went. His iridescent "DO NOT TOUCH" has become a light that he lets so shine that others might see his good works (hear his good testimony) and give glory to his Father in heaven.

What has Jesus stepped into or through to get to us? What shame and pain and despair were we dwelling in? What shame and pain and despair has Jesus taken on as his own? Jesus has made us well. We, too, get to stay here and give testimony. Who do we know who needs to hear the good news that Jesus has infused into our lives? Dare we trust God to help us tell them? It seems like such a small response to such a good thing God has done for us and for all.

God, it seems there is nowhere that you won't go to bring us back to you. Help us trust in your deliverance and invite others into this glorious healing and restoration. Amen.

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