In pm's words
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June 24, 2019, 8:00 AM

the one about healing Legion...


Sermon from June 23, 2019

Text: Luke 8:26-39

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Risen Lord Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our Redeemer; amen!

So, I apparently have a lot of ‘really favorite’ Gospel readings and this is one of them. And, I also noticed that most of my favorite Gospel readings come from the Gospel of Luke. I guess, I really do love this Gospel so much. What I love most about it, is that – for me – it really gets to the point of who Jesus is, what Jesus does, and why Jesus is needed in the world.

Throughout the Gospel of Luke, we see our Lord go out of his way to make a point, to include others, and to continue to tell the story and truth of who he is. For me, as I read the Gospel of Luke, it seems our Lord lives into the saying that I’ve seen lifted up on social media and in my church-nerd circles as of late – “I’d rather be excluded for who I include, than being included based on who I exclude.”

Every day we hear about God’s love in and through Jesus for the world, yet time after time, we see people and organizations who might proclaim that truth, but never live it out. It becomes frustrating, especially as a pastor who tries to be adamant about God’s inclusive love for all the world and creation, when those who try to live out what God calls for us in Jesus’ love, yet dismisses the very people that it appears Jesus would surround himself with. Especially when because of that inclusivity to all makes others ‘uncomfortable’ because of who you say and believe God truly loves.

Yet, when it becomes frustrating, I see stories like the one we read this morning of the Gerasene Man and Legion.

First, and foremost – Jesus is stepping outside of his ‘supposed’ realm to people that were considered true ‘outsiders’ and foreigners. During this time, communities and places might not have had ‘another side of the tracks,’ but they definitely had ‘those people who live on the other side of the sea.’

Jesus enters – with his disciples – into a land that is not their own. Jesus comes to a culture that is different from the one he and his disciples are accustomed to. Jesus enters a foreign land. Jesus leaves the comfort of a place he ‘knows’ and goes into an ‘unknown’ land.

A land that there were probably rumors and stories about. A land and culture that the ‘good folks’ on their side of the lake always talked about as being different but, not in a good way. A community where you just didn’t associate with those people.

I remember when I was a kid and living in San Diego, CA my family and I went to the border city of Tijuana, Mexico. I remember the smell. I remember the sights. I remember the poverty. I remember the dirtiness of that brief time we spent there. And I only remember that part because that is the only part we visited. We didn’t venture further into that large culturally diverse metropolitan city.

I also remember thinking, “Why would anyone come here? Look at this place?” It took a long time for me to go back to Mexico, because I thought that Mexico was only like what I saw in Tijuana. Which couldn’t be further from the truth at all.

A beautiful country, a rich culture, and amazing people call Mexico home. I got to experience that as I went on a cross-cultural trip while in seminary about 10 years ago now. I get to experience that now as I see the beauty and wonder of that culture lived out around us even in our little neck of the woods of Newberry.

I think of that first trip to Mexico as I read of Jesus entering into this foreign land. Where he and his disciples have probably heard numerous stories about ‘those people’ and ‘that place.’ And who is the very first person they encounter when the step of the boat?

A man who is not in his right mind. A man who is naked with shackles busted around his wrists and ankles. A man who is different in all the ‘bad’ ways that they’d been told. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few disciples were thinking, “Sheesh Lord, this is why we don’t come over here. Look at this person! We need to leave. There is no hope for these people here.”

Yet, thankfully – Jesus didn’t think that. Jesus didn’t live into the fears that he may have heard about this place and these people.

Instead, he hears this man – or what speaks through this man. This man, possessed by numerous demons that it names itself ‘Legion.’ This Legion who knows who Jesus is. This Legion who even fears who Jesus is because of what has been said about them.

And so, in speaking with this man from Gerasene, in speaking with Legion, Jesus heals the man and abides by the wishes of Legion to not be in torment any longer.

Here’s the thing though. Jesus heals the man from Gerasene, not because of what he says. Not because of what he believes. Not because of what he does or has done.

Jesus doesn’t heal this man from his demons because of anything in particular about this man. No, Jesus heals because of who Jesus is.

Jesus heals. Jesus brings reconciliation. Jesus listens. Jesus speaks of God’s power, grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy.

Jesus heals, because Jesus heals. That’s what he does.

Doesn’t matter who the other is, or where they come from, or what they’ve done. Jesus heals.

Jesus heals. And that freaks people out.

Jesus upsets what we’ve been ‘accustomed’ to for so long. Jesus turns the tide and gives those whose voice and place has been ‘removed’ by society a voice once more. And when people who’ve had no voice are given it again – it scares people. It makes them nervous. It causes them to drive out the very thing that has given everyone new life.

We worship a God, we are guided by a Son, we are pushed by a Spirit that drives and compels us to live into the love that our Lord shows to every person we meet. We are called through the waters of baptism, we are fed this love and life at the table, we are sent from this place to live into and live out the love and life that Jesus not only has for us, but for the entire world.

We get to show and proclaim of Jesus’ love for everybody – no matter who they are. We get to know Jesus’ love for us even when the world tells us we aren’t worthy of being loved by anyone. We get to experience a world rocked and upturned by the love of God in Christ our Lord so that we all might be able to see this new thing that God is up to in creation.

And when we live into that love, when we see the voiceless regaining words because of what God has done in Christ our Lord, there will be push back. People will be asked to leave. It makes people uncomfortable because it isn’t what society has deemed ‘right.’

And what does Jesus say then? Stay there. Speak to your community. Talk about what God has done for you. Proclaim this new thing that God has done, is doing, and will do in and through Jesus.

The one who loves. The one who enters into new spaces. The one who heals.

Not because of what someone has said, done, or believed. No, Jesus heals and gives voice and power to the outcast and hurt simply because that is what Jesus does.

Jesus heals.

In and through the waters of baptism, fed at this table, sent from this place – we are called to follow him.

We heal too. We love all. We bring comfort to those in need. Not because of what we say, or believe, or do. We heal, comfort, and love – all, no matter what – because that’s what and who Jesus is, and we are called to follow. Amen.


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