The Rev. Diann H. Bailey is the Associate Minister at First Church of Christ, Congregational in Suffield, CT.
Scripture: Luke 8:35 (NRSV)
“..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.”
Reflection: Trapped in the Present?
In this week’s gospel, we encounter a nameless, screaming, naked man who lives in the cemetery. He is the “crazy” one who everyone in town knows. The one who when we see coming, we cross over to the other side. The one who when we encounter them with our children, we pull our children closer to our side. If we are really honest with ourselves, most of us have encountered someone like this and reacted with distrust or fear. We think to ourselves, “If only he could be healed. If only he could be normal again.”
Miraculously, Jesus does heal him. The one possessed is now “normal,” just like one of us. He is fully clothed and sitting at Jesus’ feet; the demoniac turned disciple. We know from earlier in the book of Luke that Jesus is fulfilling the scriptures by doing what he has been anointed to do, “…bring good news to the poor… to release the captives… and to let the oppressed go free.” The man has been liberated and set free. Jesus has restored his humanity and returned him to his community.
One would think the community would be thrilled. He has been healed. We no longer have to worry about his safety or our safety. Instead, they are afraid and lash out at Jesus, “Get out of here!” Ungrateful, they send Jesus away. The people had learned how to live with and avoid Legion. They likely felt better of themselves, “At least we aren’t like the demoniac who runs naked and screaming through the tombs.” But now, with his healing, they must encounter him face to face in all of his humanity. He was now more like them and this was perhaps, even more frightening.
How do we respond to change? Are we trapped in the present? Do we prefer to stay in the toxic muck and mire of a relationship, a situation, or a community? Do we tell ourselves, “ ‘Tis better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”? Or do we face our fears and embrace change? Change is never easy. It is a disruption and most often we cannot imagine what will emerge from the change. Even a good change is stressful.
May we trust in Jesus just as fully as the demoniac trusted Jesus. Let us face our fears and look to the future, knowing that we will be guided by the one who has come to share the Good News and to set us free. May it be so.
Anointed Jesus, still our fears, offer us hope and liberate us from our own demons whether big or small. We put our trust and faith in you. Amen
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the family and friends of the family of 4 found shot in their home in West Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday.
- For the thousands of unaccompanied minor detain in immigration holding centers across the U.S.
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the beginning of the Summer Season at Silver lake Conference center as Pre-Camp kicks off this week.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Seymour Congregational UCC
Huntington Congregational UCC
First Church of Christ, UCC
Somers Congregational Church UCC
Congregational Church of Somersville UCC
This Week in History:
June 22, 1944 (75 years ago) President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the G.I Bill, (Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944). The bill created several compensation programs for military veterans, including money to attend college. The bill greatly impacted college enrollment over the next several years. In 1949, veterans made up almost half of the nations college enrollment. The GI Bill still exists today with several changes including a major adjustment after 9/11.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”