Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place. He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace. No work too hard for him, in faith, receive from him. Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.
Service order with readings (Galatians 3:23-9 and Luke 8:26-39) and hymn listing here
I pray to speak in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen
Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.
There are many ways of interpreting the Gospel reading we have just heard. The demons inside the man can be taken as evil supernatural spirits from some Hell, or they can be taken to mean that the man was deranged, crazy, out of his mind, or it can be taken that these demons are marks of sin. Marks of human failings. Some his own, some other people’s failings hurting him. When I read this passage I see the demons possessing the man as numerous pains from his past built up into a pool of suffering he did not know how to rise above.
Jesus asked the suffering man his name and he replied with “Legion”. A Roman legion, as he was referring to, had about six thousand soldiers in it. This was a man who was so overtaken by pain that he had been consumed by sorrow and anger, that he had forgotten who he was, and had lost himself so much that he had lost the ability to call himself by his own name.
At first the man was afraid of Jesus. The first time Jesus commanded the demons to leave him the man did not say “please save me, please help me”, but instead he said “I beg you, do not torment me.” Despite the fact that this man was in immense pain, he remained scared of Jesus, of God’s power and the overwhelming effects it can have, even if good. Jesus could reverse the effects of evil in the man, take away his demons, his suffering, and the man was transformed by that power from fear and pain into a life of freedom.
Too many of us fear God’s truly deep presence in us because we fear God’s power. In a similar respect we fear truly letting in other human beings. We fear letting other people see into our souls because then those people are completely free to say whatever they choose to you. And they might deeply hurt you. But they also might deeply and truly love you. Connect with you in a way they never have before. And so I think the lesson to take from this Gospel story is that you must be yourself, and you must not be afraid of being yourself, and letting other people, and God, see you completely and wholly as you are, and understanding you fully, heal you and themselves.
We open our souls to God in many different ways. Some with hands together in prayer, others with music, others with dancing, others with meditation, others with walking in nature, and others in other ways. And we must be careful when we come to church on a Sunday that we do not simply visit God. Church is an opportunity for brothers and sisters to come together and pray together, reflect together, and then go out together to keep God in every moment of our lives, and take God’s Love to others.
Truly opening up to God and to other people can be difficult, with hurtful memories in our past. I heard a beautiful metaphor for suffering in life, of a train and a tunnel. When you are born you begin in your train on a journey rolling along, and then you go through a dark tunnel, and you are afraid at this darkness, terrified. It agonises you as the world you knew vanishes. But it is temporary. When you get through this tunnel of suffering the light suddenly seems blinding, so much brighter than it was before, and you are filled with a new overwhelming appreciation for the light in life, and it means so much more to you then. We must not get stuck in the tunnels, we must let go of our past sufferings in order to move forward once again into the light. We must not forget who we are, we must break down the walls that hold us back, we must face our pains and let them go.
And be open to the world. Edouard Boubat said in 1958, “You cannot live when you are untouchable. Life is vulnerability.”
However we find God, however we personally pray, we are all brothers and sisters. Our Galatians reading today says that we are all one in Christ Jesus. The letter of 1 John says, “God is Love, and those who live in Love live in God, because God lives in them.” No particular human distinction – male or female, white or black, gay, straight, bisexual, asexual – no particular distinction is an advantage in the matter of salvation, in the matter of being healed and welcomed and loved by God; none of these distinctions have a preferential status for our union with Christ.
Paul writes in our Galatians reading that the law of the Old Testament bound humanity in chains. God did not intend for us to live life in that way. Humanity is described as being created in the image of God in Genesis, and God wants us to be free children, not slaves. Christ liberated humanity from restraining laws which deemed groups of people unclean. The Son of God came with a message that we are one, and in Love are blessed by God.
The law in separating Israelites and Gentiles was separating the people from the influence of outsiders. With this law ended and the new covenant of Jesus presented to us – the summary of faith as loving God, your neighbour, and yourself – different people are encouraged to communicate.
Let go of your pains. Knock down your walls. Let God into every part of your being. And let yourself be truly and deeply loved by other human beings. You don’t have to tell everyone your whole life story, but you shouldn’t be afraid to completely be yourself and not hold anything of yourself back. Let yourself fully live life, because you are loved, and will always deserve to. Let God heal you. Let God be your comfort in your difficult times, and walk with God in the joyous moments too, knowing that He, She, is smiling with you.
Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.
The Lord be with you